Ex-Jefferson School Board aide files EEOC complaint against former board president _lowres

Cedric Floyd

The Jefferson Parish public school system appears likely to face a lawsuit over allegations that former School Board President Cedric Floyd verbally harassed an assistant last year before she resigned from her job.

Former School Board staff secretary Sharon Hunter this month filed a discrimination charge against the school district with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a step people typically take before suing an employer for damages in state or federal court.

Hunter’s attorney for the EEOC complaint is former School Board member Michael Delesdernier, who secured a restraining order against Floyd following a 2014 shouting match.

Delesdernier was among several school system officials who clashed with Floyd in recent years. That group also includes former Superintendents James Meza and Diane Roussel and legal services chief Patricia Adams.

Hunter’s EEOC filing accuses Floyd of unjustly berating her on multiple occasions between June and September of last year. She alleges the board endorsed his actions by refusing to listen to a report from an attorney hired to investigate a harassment complaint she filed internally.

Hunter claims she was treated poorly because she is a woman. She also says she was cut out of board-related business as retaliation for her internal complaint. Both actions violated federal labor law, she alleges.

Delesdernier declined to comment on the EEOC filing other than to say, “We hope she gets justice.”

As he has done before, Floyd on Monday denied ever being unprofessional or disrespectful toward Hunter.

He and School Board attorney Mike Fanning said the only requirement the district had with respect to the internal report on Hunter’s complaint was to notify the state Attorney General’s Office of any findings that had merit — something they said wasn’t necessary in this case.

In her EEOC papers, Hunter claims Floyd called her late one night during a board retreat at LSU last summer to yell at her for having “checked on him” in the lobby. “I was only asking him if he needed any assistance,” Hunter wrote.

Hunter alleges that Floyd later called her repeatedly to accuse her of engaging in unauthorized and unlawful activity by organizing a meeting agenda with Superintendent Isaac Joseph and his chief of staff.

Hunter said Floyd — the board’s 2015 president — also badgered her by telling her she didn’t know what she was doing and was not in control while training to use a new electronic system.

“From July 2015 through August 2015, I had to put up with this kind of harassment all day long, every day,” she wrote.

Finally, Hunter wrote, Floyd verbally lashed out at her because she decided against storing a $25 million check in his desk drawer, as he had requested. She instead gave it to the district’s finance chief, as other board members had advised her.

Hunter said Floyd called her to scream about the check, which the school system received after settling a lawsuit related to the 2010 BP oil spill. Then, after she retrieved the check, Floyd “yelled (at) and harassed” her in front of three witnesses, she said.

“One witness thought it was an irate parent and placed the floor on lockdown, until they realized who it was,” Hunter wrote.

Hunter said she lodged grievances against Floyd with the district’s Human Resources Department and Joseph by mid-August. Joseph then instructed the board to direct all of its business to another employee in his office, Hunter wrote.

The board later hired labor lawyer I. Harold Koretzky to investigate Hunter’s claims. Hunter claimed Koretzky’s report “was damaging for Mr. Floyd,” but a divided board earlier this year voted against listening to the findings in a closed-door setting.

That decision “proves that the School Board condones this behavior,” wrote Hunter, who in the fall left a 22-year career with the Jefferson district to join the Orleans Parish public school system.

Fanning said the board’s vote did not constitute an opinion on Floyd’s actions.