A Metairie lawyer has affirmed the Jefferson Parish school system's decision to fire former John Ehret High School Assistant Principal Corey Lambert Sr.
Lambert was removed as football coach and assistant principal at the school in August after the school system said he had repeatedly ignored admonitions on spending, met with suspended students, recruited players illegally and bullied some of his colleagues, among other charges.
Lambert challenged his firing as assistant principal, and an eight-day hearing was held in October before lawyer Stanley Kottemann, who was appointed to hear Lambert's appeal.
In his ruling Monday, Kottemann said that combining the roles of assistant principal and head football coach at Ehret created a job too big for anyone to perform successfully.
"It was apparent that (Lambert) did not have enough hours in a day to be able to successfully handle the positions of head football coach and assistant principal," Kottemann wrote. Trying to fill both roles meant Lambert fell behind on evaluations he was required to do as an assistant principal.
Kottemann noted that Lambert also neglected to get proper approval for a "small number of purchase orders."
Kottemann didn't affirm all of the school system's charges. He called Lambert "a good family man who is respected and honored by his family, friends, co-workers and former students."
As for the charge of illegal recruiting, Kottemann pointed to the Louisiana High School Athletics Association, which in its own inquiry did not find Lambert guilty of that allegation.
He concluded that Superintendent Isaac Joseph's decision to remove Lambert as assistant principal could not be termed "arbitrary or capricious" and therefore was legal. The law does not require school officials to have legal justification to remove a football coach.
Under state law, Lambert, who was a tenured teacher in the Jefferson school system, could return to the role of a teacher or an equivalent at any school in the system except Ehret. His firing also prohibits him from coaching at any school in the district.
Lambert's attorney, Willie Zanders, criticized Kottemann's ruling in a three-page statement. Kottemann "is a fine gentleman who has a very successful law practice, but he has handled few, if any, cases involving the firing of school employees," Zanders wrote.
Zanders cited Lambert's record as a coach in noting that he had never been written up for misconduct by any previous principal or administrator.
Zanders also focused in on Glenn Delcarpio, an assistant principal at Ehret, who he said had solicited negative statements from other teachers about Lambert.
"The bottom line is there was no good reason for Mr. Corey Lambert to be removed as assistant principal of John Ehret High School," Zanders said.
Lambert played quarterback at Ehret and returned to the school in 2012 as head coach. In his first year, the Patriots went 0-9, but he led them to an appearance in the 2015 state championship game, where they fell to Zachary.
Lambert has said he will appeal the ruling to the 24th Judicial District Court.
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