Lafayette SB budget battle quiet as it heads to public hearing _lowres

Advocate staff file photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Former Lafayette Parish Schools Superintendent Pat Cooper pictured here at an August 2014 school board meeting.

Ousted Lafayette Parish schools Superintendent Pat Cooper could get another day in court to challenge his termination.

In a hearing set Dec. 7, state District Judge Patrick Michot will consider whether to grant Cooper a new trial. The hearing comes after Michot’s ruling last month upholding Cooper’s firing, though based on only one of the four charges the School Board accepted as grounds for termination in November 2014.

Cooper filed the motion earlier this month.

Two of the three charges that Michot discounted involve the continual employment and payment of Thad Welch, a special assistant to the superintendent. Michot also found the board erred in its interpretation of Cooper’s contract related to payment of legal services. Cooper had used board funds to pay his attorney, Lane Roy, about $5,100 in 2013 when the board was preparing to file a formal reprimand against him related to the Welch employment issue.

Michot upheld the board’s decision related to Cooper’s decision to pay some principals higher salaries than the board-approved salary schedule.

Now, Cooper’s attorney wants the judge to reconsider his decision.

Roy argued in court filings that if state law gives Cooper authority to affix teachers’ salaries, then he has the authority to set the salaries of principals, as well.

“Each of the principals was required to have a teaching certificate, in fact, all were teachers,” Roy wrote. “The superintendent is classified as a teacher as are the assistant superintendents and many others in the central office. The fact that they are not in the classroom does not mean that they are not teachers, and counsel knows that.”

Cooper offers no new evidence in his request for a new trial and he made similar arguments in prior court filings and in court last month, board attorney Dennis Blunt wrote in court filings made earlier this month.

Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.