Former Lafayette Parish schools Superintendent Pat Cooper heads back to court Monday, where he’s seeking a new trial on the merits of his challenge of his November 2014 termination.
In September, 15th Judicial District Judge Patrick Michot upheld Cooper’s termination — but based on only one of the four charges that the School Board cited as grounds for Cooper’s termination.
Michot found that the board was justified in dismissing Cooper based on his hiring of some principals at a salary that wasn’t aligned with the board’s approved salary schedule. However, he threw out the charges related to Cooper’s decisions to employ and pay a special assistant, and Cooper’s use of board funds to pay his attorney when board members prepared to formally reprimand him in 2013 for personnel decisions related to the special assistant.
In court filings, Cooper had asked Michot to reconsider his decision related to the principal pay because state law allows superintendents to set teacher salaries and principals are teachers.
Cooper will return to court next month for separate litigation tied to his October 2014 attempt to get the court to intervene in the board’s budget process and bar three board members from voting in his termination hearing.
The judge didn’t intervene; however, the board in early 2015 decided to make a counter claim against Cooper, saying the ousted superintendent owes it money for expenses incurred by the school system when Cooper refused to follow the budget adopted for the 2014-15 school year.
In court filings made last month, Cooper’s attorney, Lane Roy, wrote that the board has no grounds to ask Cooper for any damages because it breached Cooper’s contract “long before any of the incidents complained of in its suit against (Cooper) took place.”
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.