A former principal in the Iberville Parish school system wants an unspecified amount of money from the School Board and other officials for a demotion she alleges was racially motivated.
Maria S. Delouise, who is white, filed suit late Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge.
Delouise alleges she was ousted as principal of East Iberville School in St. Gabriel in March 2010 because powerful people wanted a black principal.
Through attorneys Robert L. Campbell and J. Parker Layrisson, Delouise alleged in her suit that Superintendent Edward Cancienne told her: “This is not about your job performance. This is about the color of your skin. You are not the right color for this job. They want a black principal.”
In addition to the School Board and Cancienne, Delouise is suing Board President Melvin Lodge and former White Castle Mayor George Grace.
Delouise says in her suit she believes: “Dr. Cancienne promised Mr. Lodge (African-American) and Mr. Grace (African-American) that (she) would be demoted and transferred so that East Iberville School could have an African-American principal.”
Lodge denied that allegation Thursday.
“It is false,” Lodge said. “I don’t try to micromanage the schools.”
Board members voted to demote Delouise to principal of special projects and transferred her to Plaquemine High School in April 2010, Delouise says in her suit.
In December, Delouise became acting principal of Plaquemine High.
In March, however, she filed a complaint of racial discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, according to her suit. In May, she was demoted to librarian and assigned to White Castle High School.
“I had nothing to do with either decision,” Lodge said. “Dr. Cancienne is a very effective superintendent. He decided to move her.”
Cancienne did not return a call seeking comment Thursday.
Grace, who left the mayor’s office in July, faces trial in January on unrelated fraud charges. He could not be reached for comment Thursday. Calls to his cellphone triggered a recorded message that said the number is “changed, disconnected or is no longer in service.”
Angela deGravelles, spokeswoman for the school system, issued a written statement from its legal counsel, Louis Delahaye: “It is the policy of the Iberville Parish School System not to comment on pending litigation.”
The civil suit is assigned to U.S. District Judge Brian A. Jackson.