A member of the Jefferson Parish School Board has asked for a restraining order against another member, claiming that a closed-door discussion about turning a low-performing school over to a charter company escalated into uncontrollable and offensive yelling and the threat of physical violence.
School Board member Michael Delesdernier said fellow member Cedric Floyd screamed at school staffers and nearly poked Delesdernier in the eye during the heated exchange, sparking fears that Floyd might escalate the dispute in the future, according to a petition for a restraining order filed on behalf of Delesdernier last week in 24th Judicial District Court.
The case, which is scheduled for a preliminary hearing this week, pits the most aggressive and hot-tempered members of the School Board’s two factions against one another. However, Delesdernier said in his petition that Floyd took things to another level at the board’s July 2 meeting.
At that meeting, the board was briefed in executive session about potential legal issues surrounding the conversion of Woodmere Elementary School into a charter school because of poor academic performance. Floyd opposed that move, both in public discussion after the executive session and earlier in an apparently explosive argument that got so loud it could be heard by members of the audience in a different room.
In his petition, Delesdernier said Floyd screamed “disrespectfully, uncontrollably and offensively” at School Board members and Tricia Adams, the board’s attorney.
After initially walking away from Floyd, Delesdernier said in his petition, he asked Floyd to stop yelling and “speak civilly” to Adams. At that point, Floyd “leapt from his chair and charged” Delesdernier “in a physically aggressive, threatening and intimidating manner,” according to the petition. Floyd also poked his finger toward Delesdernier’s eye “in an obvious attempt to blind” him, according to the petition.
At one point, Superintendent James Meza left the closed-door meeting to speak to a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy — a move Delesdernier said was made to avoid physical violence — though that deputy was never actually called into the executive session.
“Due to Floyd’s unprovoked, extreme, intentional, dangerous and outrageous conduct, (Delesdernier) is now greatly concerned and in constant fear of undergoing another similar encounter with Floyd during future public meetings,” according to the petition.
Floyd’s attorney, Anderson Council, did not return a phone call seeking comment on the case Monday.
Delesdernier’s request for a restraining order seeks to have Floyd barred from touching or battering him, coming within 3 feet of him in a menacing or threatening manner or having any direct contact with him except during School Board meetings or through written communication.
Delesdernier was elected as part of a slate of business-backed candidates who won a majority on the Jefferson board in 2010. Floyd, who served on the board in the 1990s before starting his current tenure in 2008, has been a consistent critic of that group and has argued the policies they have put in place have given short shrift to teachers and minorities in the school system.
Both men have been known to argue their positions loudly and aggressively.
Follow Jeff Adelson on Twitter, @jadelson.