Jefferson School Board members exchange accusations at court hearing _lowres

Cedric Floyd, left, and Michael Delesdernier

The Jefferson Parish public school system has been sued in federal court over allegations that former School Board President Cedric Floyd verbally harassed an assistant so severely that she was forced to quit her job.

Sharon Hunter filed a lawsuit seeking damages Thursday, listing the school system and its governing board among the defendants.

Both an attorney and a spokeswoman for the school system said Friday that officials would not comment on the lawsuit, citing a policy against discussing pending litigation.

Hunter is being represented by attorney Michael Delesdernier, a former School Board member who won a restraining order against Floyd following a shouting match that occurred when they were still colleagues in 2014.

Hunter, who was the board's staff secretary, accuses Floyd of unjustly berating her on multiple occasions when he was chairman in 2015, once because she purportedly refused his instructions to leave a $25 million check in his desk drawer.

She alleges that the board then signed off on his actions when it voted 5-4 to disregard a report from an attorney hired to probe a harassment complaint that Hunter filed internally.

And she claims she was cut out of board-related business as payback for the internal complaint, which she argues violated her civil rights under federal labor law and prompted her to quit after more than 20 years with the school district.

Hunter later registered a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a preliminary step leading up to Thursday's lawsuit.

The lawsuit also asserts that Superintendent Isaac Joseph and the five School Board members who voted to reject the investigating attorney's report — Floyd, Marion "Coach" Bonura, Melinda Doucet, Ricky Johnson and Raymond St. Pierre — teamed up "to trade political positions, jobs (and) contracts with each other" in violation of governmental ethics regulations.

The lawsuit alludes to assignments as school principals that Joseph's and Johnson's wives received, and it says Bonura's wife was transferred "to a preferred location" while other relatives of his also were employed by the school system.

It notes that St. Pierre and Doucet have since succeeded Floyd as presidents of the board.

Floyd, Joseph, Bonura, Doucet, Johnson and St. Pierre are named in the lawsuit as individual defendants. Not listed as defendants are School Board members Melinda Bourgeois, Sandy Denapolis-Bosarge, Larry Dale and Mark Morgan, who voted in favor of accepting the report on the investigation into Hunter's complaint.

The case was allotted to U.S. District Judge Lance Africk.

The School Board is expected to consider hiring outside counsel to deal with Hunter's lawsuit at a meeting Tuesday.

Delesdernier and Hunter are among several former Jefferson school system officials who have clashed with Floyd over the years. Others are former Superintendents James Meza and Diane Roussel, Joseph and legal services chief Patricia Adams.

Floyd has previously dismissed all of Hunter's claims against him as untrue.

Follow Ramon Antonio Vargas on Twitter, @RVargasAdvocate.

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