OPELOUSAS — With a federal lawsuit pending against the St. Landry Parish school system over its longtime substitute service employees, some School Board members on Thursday tried to address the issue.

However, the item was not on the meeting agenda, and the board declined to vote on adding the matter when it was proposed by board members Hazel Sias and Milton Ambres.

Sias said the school district should hire on a permanent basis all those janitors, cooks and bus drivers who have been paid as substitutes for as long as six years.

Superintendent Edward Brown said the situation is affected by the school district’s revenues.

At the start of the school year, Brown said, the district hired eight substitute janitors to permanent positions.

“The rest of these (janitors) who are still substitutes will be addressed in the new budget starting July 1,” Brown said.

Last year, the district hired several former long time substitute bus drivers to permanent positions. Other substitute drivers still remain on a waiting list for full-time employment with the district.

Last month, the substitute bus drivers filed a lawsuit in U.S. district court challenging the delay.

Sias said she is especially concerned about the substitutes because Brown is promoting a part-time receptionist for the central office to full-time status.

Brown said the receptionist works 20 hours per week. When that worker is sick or on a lunch break, other central office employees handle the receptionist’s duties.

Board member Randy Wagley said the board is powerless to dictate to Brown whether he should hire a full-time receptionist.

“We can discuss this until we are blue in the face, and it still won’t matter,” Wagley said.

In another matter, the board agreed to advertise for bids to lease for three years a school district-owned 640-acre tract between Palmetto and Melville.