Prohibited from serving on the Tangipahoa School Board in plea deal, member resigns before taking oath of office _lowres

Eric Dangerfield

Eight of the nine recently elected members of the Tangipahoa Parish School Board took the oath of office Tuesday night, but a special election will be needed to determine who will fill the final seat.

Former board member Eric Dangerfield, who won the Hammond-area District G seat with 64.8 percent of the vote in November, delivered a letter of resignation just minutes before Tuesday’s meeting, which he did not attend. Dangerfield was under court order not to take office, after pleading guilty in May to misdemeanor theft and tax evasion in a Medicaid fraud case.

“Because of circumstances that are beyond my control, I am unable to honor the desires of the residents of District G, who decisively voted that I represent them as their school board member,” Dangerfield wrote in his resignation letter. “Again, I regret having to resign when there are so many issues still unresolved, especially the desegregation case. I pray that my efforts were pleasing in God’s sight.”

Board President Brett Duncan said Dangerfield’s letter will be forwarded to the Secretary of State’s Office, and the board will have a resolution ready at its Jan. 20 meeting to declare the seat vacant, call a special election and appoint an interim board member to serve in the meantime.

Dangerfield’s plea deal with the state Attorney General’s Office prohibited him from working for any entity that receives Medicaid or Medicare funding and required him to resign from the School Board, which he did in July. Judge Mike Erwin ruled Dec. 5 that although the agreement did not specifically forbid Dangerfield from running for School Board again, that was clearly the state’s intent in making the deal.

A few potential candidates already are jockeying for the open seat, including Michael Wells, a Southern University program coordinator who served as interim board member after Dangerfield’s previous resignation in July until the term expired Dec. 31.

Some members of the Tangipahoa Parish chapter of the NAACP have called for the board to appoint Betty Robinson, a parish educator, as the new interim pending the special election.

Follow Heidi R. Kinchen on Twitter, @HeidiRKinchen. Contact her by phone at (225) 336-6981.