Lafayette board eyes new special counsel to investigate Cooper _lowres

Advocate staff file photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- Pat Cooper, Lafayette Parish Schools superintendent.

The Lafayette Parish School Board will consider hiring new special counsel for an investigation of management decisions made by Superintendent Pat Cooper.

The board added the resolution to hire special counsel on Tuesday — ahead of the required 24-hour public notice required for the 5:30 p.m. Wednesday meeting.

The resolution calls for the hiring of Sheldon Dennis Blunt, of the Baton Rouge law firm Phelps Dunbar, at special counsel rates approved by the Attorney General’s Office.

The rates are capped at $175 an hour and based on an attorney’s years of experience.

The board initially approved a resolution to hire as special counsel, the firm Grant & Barrow, of Gretna, in July 2013. The Attorney General’s Office did not approve the request until last month when the board received new interim general counsel.

The former general counsel, Assistant District Attorney Roger Hamilton Jr., informed the Attorney General’s Office in October 2013 that an investigation of the Cooper was unwarranted.

Grant & Barrow attorney Michael Fanning withdrew as special counsel after sending a public records request to Cooper’s office. Fanning cited a lack of time as his reason for withdrawing as special counsel.