The Jefferson Parish School Board staff secretary who recently accused the board president of being verbally abusive to her has become the latest of several notable Jefferson school system employees to transfer this year to the Orleans Parish system.
Sharon Hunter began working as an assistant to Orleans Parish Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. on Sept. 21, Orleans Parish public schools spokeswoman Emily Good said Tuesday. Hunter had resigned her position with the Jefferson board four days earlier after filing a grievance in August against board President Cedric Floyd.
Hunter’s move to the Orleans system follows those by the Jefferson system’s former chief academic officer, Michelle Blouin-Williams; the former chief human capital officer, Mary Garton; the former director of data management, Thomas Lambert; and the former principal at Grace King High School in Metairie, Meg Griffon.
Blouin-Williams has become the Orleans system’s chief administrative officer; Garton its chief portfolio officer; Lambert the director of information systems; and Griffon the executive director of so-called network schools such as Ben Franklin Elementary and McMain Secondary.
The various departures occurred after a teachers union-supported faction gained a majority on the Jefferson Parish School Board in elections last year. Following the elections, Floyd was elected by his colleagues to become School Board president, and Superintendent James Meza retired, as previously scheduled.
Meza hoped to be succeeded by Blouin-Williams, his deputy. However, the newly constituted board voted to give the superintendent’s job to Isaac Joseph, whom Floyd supported.
Joseph then named Blouin-Williams chief academic officer, but she soon resigned and went to the Orleans system. Garton (who had resigned from the Jefferson system in March), Lambert and Griffon all joined her there.
Jefferson has Louisiana’s largest public school system, but the Orleans system — the smaller of two systems in Orleans Parish — could grow quickly if state Recovery School District charter schools begin to opt for a return to local oversight.
Although she was little known to the public, Hunter’s resignation this month received attention because she had filed a grievance against Floyd in mid-August.
People familiar with the situation told The New Orleans Advocate that Floyd had asked Hunter to keep a $24.5 million check from BP — money from the settlement reached with local governments over the company’s 2010 oil spill — in her desk so he could be photographed later holding it. She felt uncomfortable doing that, she said, and so gave the check to the school district’s chief financial officer, prompting Floyd to launch a tirade at Hunter so intense that she immediately went to the human resources department and lodged a complaint against him.
Floyd has denied that account, saying he always was appropriate and professional in his dealings with Hunter.
The position Hunter now holds in the Orleans school system was open because of a resignation, Good said. She said the position was publicly advertised on the Orleans school system’s website, and Hunter was hired after being recommended to the superintendent.
Hunter spent more than 13 years with the Jefferson school system and had been the School Board’s secretary since December 2012.