LAFAYETTE — Three schools identified by the state as low performers can now hire designated staff members to work with teachers, students and parents to improve students’ behavioral and learning skills.

The School Board approved the new position of academic/behavior coordinator, which will be federally funded under Title I.

Any Title I school in the district may opt to use funds to pay for the position, said Phyllis Bartlett, district director for federal programs.

So far, Alice Boucher Elementary, J.W. Faulk Elementary and Charter High School are interested in hiring such a coordinator.

Boucher and Faulk both are on the academic watch list for performance scores below 75 — the 2012 minimum accountability standard.

Charter High was recently labeled as an academically unacceptable school; however, the district disputes the standing and plans to request a review of its score calculation.

On Wednesday, the board approved the renaming of the W.D. Smith Career Center to also honor the wife of the school’s namesake, Mary Baker Smith for her own educational contributions. The school will be known as the W.D. and Mary Baker Smith Career Center.

The board spent nearly an hour in executive session to discuss the November 2010 appointment of Yvonne Zeno as acting principal of Northside High School in the absence of its principal, Carlton Handy.

Handy remains on leave and the system is unsure of when he will return, said Lawrence Lilly, district deputy superintendent of human resources and operations.

Appointments to fill an absent employee’s position for a set period of time — such as a year or a semester — are brought before the board for approval, Lilly said.

“In this particular case, (it) never (came) before the board because there’s a particular time we’re in limbo,” Lilly said. “We don’t know when this principal is coming back.”

Lilly’s comment was interrupted by board attorney Dawn Morris, who recommended that the board enter executive session.

The issue was added to Wednesday’s agenda by board member Tehmi Chassion who told members he “simply would like to abide by board policy” and either have the appointment brought before the board for approval or advertise for the position.

When the board returned from its 45-minute, closed-door talk, it did not discuss the matter, which was on the agenda as an introduction item.

Also on Wednesday, the board approved promoting Truman Montessori assistant principal Gwen Tate to principal while current principal Joan Daley is on leave through June.

It also approved a two-year contract for Glenn Robin as the first principal of the Early College Academy. The four-star school is housed at South Louisiana Community College and enables students to earn a high school diploma in tandem with an associate’s degree. Robin previously was assistant principal of the Smith Career Center.

The board had twice previously rejected a recommendation to appoint displaced administrator Ken Douet to the position in order to advertise the job.

Douet was displaced as principal of N.P. Moss Middle School when it closed in May. He has since been appointed as a staff development specialist.