Vermilion Parish School Board Superintendent Jerome Puyau talks about his new three-year employment contract Tuesday, January 9, 2018, at the Vermilion Parish School Board office in Abbeville, La.

The Vermilion Parish School Board has placed Superintendent Jerome Puyau on administrative leave while the school system investigates allegations concerning his "character and competence."

"Well, I actually I don't know what it means," Puyau said. "I don't know if it was a demotion or if I get to go home now for an extended time period where the taxpayers are paying for me to go home with my salary and a car to stay at home and do what? So, I will be at home, and I will be working and I will be working for our system in the background because there is just one superintendent and I will be their superintendent."

The superintendent has been placed on leave with pay pending the outcome of the investigation. He has been ordered not to return to school board premises until the investigation is completed.

Puyau said he believes there is more to the story, such as retaliation and personal vendettas against him.

"A laundry list of complaints that have been made by four board members who entered our board. They have listed these before and some of these are actually past the time frame in which we can investigate it," Puyau said. "They were put on my evaluation four years ago and it's ridiculous that we keep coming back to the same items over and over. There is nothing that they can find or anything that they can investigate that has any substance."

The allegations against him include: verbal attack on parents after a meeting, overruling board decisions and inappropriate use of technology on school campuses.

"I am the superintendent, I do have an attorney, I also have another attorney because threats were made prior to this meeting because I knew this was coming. I have sought advice on what my next steps are," Puyau said.

Paul Hebert has been named interim superintendent until the board meets again next week.

Board President Stacy Landry said he will always support Puyau, but for now, the some action had to be taken.

"Hopefully we get a speedy answer and I pray Jerome remains the superintendent and he can finish out his contract and we can work together," Landry said.

Puyau has been Vermilion’s superintendent since 2013. In January, members renewed his contract with a raise of about $30,000. A teacher who questioned the raise at a board meeting was then handcuffed in a rough, video-recorded arrest that sparked outrage around the U.S. The board’s president later resigned. 

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