LAFAYETTE — A state district judge has denied Superintendent Pat Cooper’s request for a rehearing on his claims that the School Board illegally adopted the 2014-15 budget.
A copy of Judge Durwood Conque’s denial wasn’t available Tuesday because the courthouse was closed but Cooper’s attorney, Lane Roy, confirmed Conque rejected the request for a rehearing.
He said the judge didn’t provide a reason for his denial.
Cooper filed a request for an injunction that asked the court to intervene in the board’s budget issues and force the board to continue operations at 50 percent of last year’s budget. Cooper claimed the board illegally prepared and adopted the budget. Conque denied his request in a ruling made Oct. 22.
Last week, Cooper requested a rehearing, saying it wasn’t clear if Conque had considered a memo from Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White on the budget matter because the judge made no reference to the memo in his ruling.
The White memo was received by Cooper after the hearing, but submitted with post-hearing briefs by Roy. Even though it was included with a brief filed prior to Conque’s ruling Oct. 22, “it is believed that the Court did not consider the letter in evidence and, therefore, did not consider the letter to be relevant to its decision in this matter,” Roy wrote in the filing that requested a rehearing.
In the memo, White told Cooper that he had not yet received a certified copy of the budget nor received certification that the board followed budget preparation and adoption procedures outlined in state law. With the memo, White also submitted to Cooper a copy of a memo from an attorney with the Legislative Auditor’s Office that affirmed the state education department attorney’s opinion that proper procedures weren’t followed in the budget process.
The board adopted a budget on Sept. 15 but Cooper has not implemented the 2014-15 spending plan citing his concerns over its legality, as well as the impact of cuts approved by the board he contends will be harmful to the school system.
State law requires district superintendents to submit a certified copy of the school system’s budget to the state superintendent. Cooper submitted a copy of the budget to the state, but refused to certify it with his signature because of his objections to the spending plan.
The district continues to operate at 50 percent of last year’s budget, and the board’s attorney has said Cooper could be liable for expenses made that are not included in the board’s adopted budget.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.