An Ossun Elementary School educator who used a racial slur in a post on Facebook has retired and left the school system, according to school board documents.
Julie Colley, previously an in-school suspension facilitator and tutor on the support staff team at Ossun, was listed as having retired on Aug. 17, according to personnel change documents attached to the school board’s Wednesday meeting agenda.
Colley is no longer listed on the school’s website and parents shared screenshots online of an open job listing hiring for Colley’s replacement on the Lafayette Parish School System’s open job board. The listing was posted Aug. 18.
On Aug. 7, the former educator made a comment under a post promoting a back-to-school giveaway on Cameron Street, using a racial slur in tandem with disparaging statements about visiting the area after dark.
The comment was made in the ‘Whatz Goin On in Acadiana’ Facebook group and was removed but later re-shared as a screenshot by a page administrator who challenged the language. Parents responded with anger, disgust and calls for Colley’s removal.
Colley’s departure was seemingly alluded to Wednesday when school board member Justin Centanni questioned district Employees Services Director John Mouton over whether an employee who’s received pending notice of termination can retire before the termination takes effect. Colley was not specifically named in the questioning.
“If someone is going to be terminated they receive notice first before the actual termination comes. If in between that time when you receive notice of pending disciplinary action and the disciplinary action actually happens, and you have the years to retire, then that is an option for you,” Mouton said.
After Colley’s post initially circulated online, LPSS spokesperson Allison Dickerson said that the district was investigating but could not comment further because it was a personnel issue.
If Colley was considered a teacher, the district has two disciplinary pathways outlining the procedure around dismissal and other serious forms of punishment, one for non-tenured teachers and one for tenured teachers. Regardless of category the teacher must be notified in writing of the discipline, with non-tenured teachers given seven days to respond in writing and tenured teachers 10 days, the district policy said.
From there, a tenured teacher could request a disciplinary hearing, which must take place between 10 and 30 days after the teacher’s request is received. It can be public or private, at the teacher’s discretion, with witnesses and counsel on the teacher’s behalf. The hearing officer must make a ruling in writing within 10 days of the hearing, the policy said.
Both tenured and non-tenured teachers have the option to appeal their discipline for review to a relevant legal court.
Ossun Elementary, at 400 Rue Scholastique, had 529 students in the 2018-2019 school year, per data from the Louisiana Department of Education. The student population was 64% students of color with 45% identifying as African American.
Days after Colley’s post caught community attention, Marja Broussard, vice president for the Louisiana NAACP’s District D, released a statement calling for Colley’s removal from her post and an end to “the bigotry that continues to traumatize our youth and further the narrative that our Black children are second-class citizens.”