OPELOUSAS — The St. Landry Parish School Board selected Donnie Perron as acting school superintendent after a 7-5 vote cast along racial lines during a special meeting Monday.
Perron and Assistant Superintendent Joseph Cassimere were nominated to replace Superintendent Michael Nassif, who notified the board last week that he was leaving the position.
Nassif told the board he would begin using his accumulated sick leave because of an undisclosed medical condition, board attorney Gerard Caswell said.
In a related matter, board President Huey Wyble said James Olivier, assistant superintendent in charge of maintenance and operations, announced Monday morning that he was leaving for unspecified reasons.
During Monday’s voting, all seven white board members voted for Perron, who is white.
Five of the six black board members voted for Cassimere, who is black.
Board member Raymond Cassimere abstained from voting because he is the brother of Joseph Cassimere.
Voting for Perron, who has been serving as the parish athletic director, were Candace Gerace, Ronald Carriere, Scott Richard, Harry Fruge, Kyle Boss, Roger Young and Wyble.
Joseph Cassimere received votes from Anthony Standberry, Charles Ross, Josie Frank, Quincy Richard and John Miller.
Perron and Joseph Cassimere, who have worked in the district for a combined 71 years, each spoke to the board for five minutes before the voting.
Before the vote, Frank said she did not know much about Perron’s qualifications for the superintendent’s position.
Someone at the meeting gave Caswell a cellphone with an Internet connection, that Caswell said indicated that Perron has a superintendent’s certification on his teaching certificate.
Joseph Cassimere said he does not believe the state’s recent school performance report card, which gave the parish a “D” grade, was accurate.
“This is not an F or a D parish. I think we need a lot more parental involvement in our schools and also look at the staffing in our low-performing schools,” he said.
Perron told the board he plans to help the school system move forward.
“I accept the challenge and I appreciate the opportunity,” he said.
Perron said school performance scores aren’t a totally accurate assessment of the district’s progress.
“They don’t tell the whole story. We have good educators and good teachers,” he said.
Caswell told the board that the length of Perron’s appointment is uncertain, due to determining the exact number of sick days that Nassif has accumulated and when Nassif plans to retire.
“(Nassif) does have medical documentation. The board, if it so chooses, can ask (Nassif) to verify that he is not capable of continuing to work,” Caswell said.
Wyble said Olivier’s decision Monday to resign was surprising.
The board, Wyble said, will wait five days and then ask Olivier to present his resignation in writing before taking any action on the matter.