LAFAYETTE — The former principal of N.P. Moss Middle School is seeking $500,000 in damages from the Lafayette Parish School Board stemming from allegations the board passed over him last year for the newly created principal position at the Early College Academy.
Ken P. Douet filed a lawsuit last week in 15th Judicial District Court alleging the board assigned a person who had “far fewer qualifications, far less experience, and no administrative experience” when compared with his credentials.
“It is believed that these measures were taken out of political retribution against Ken Douet by persons in the school system administrative staff for reasons unconnected with his capability and past performance,” the lawsuit said.
Douet was principal of N.P. Moss Middle School when the board voted to close the low-performing school in November 2010 to prevent a Louisiana Department of Education takeover due to repeated low performance.
Because Douet was a tenured administrator under contract through June 2012, he was to be given preference at another job of similar status with the same capacity and salary, the lawsuit said, citing both the board’s policy and state law.
Instead, Douet was appointed as a staff development specialist after the board twice rejected a recommendation by then-Superintendent Burnell Lemoine to appoint Douet to be principal at the Early College Academy, according to the lawsuit.
Douet said Wednesday the board followed those policies and procedures during the same meeting when handling another employee who was in a similar situation, but they would not allow him to take the position as principal of the Early College Academy because “They said it was an important position.”
Various comments were made about him during the board’s public hearings that “reflected unnecessarily, and falsely on his competence for the job in question and for competence of his performance in general,” Douet alleged in the lawsuit.
These comments were made despite his past performance and his entire school record, which has been “not only satisfactory, but exemplary,” the lawsuit said.
“Competence” comments made at the public hearings were used to justify the board’s “faulty legal position” and the “favoritism exercised by certain members of the School Board,” the lawsuit said.
His new position as referred to in the lawsuit as being “far below his skills, far below the prestige he was entitled to under the contract.”
“I think the important part of the suit is making certain that elected officials follow the regulations in place,” Douet said, adding if officials do not like the policies then they should change them prior to a hearing and not “in the stream of things.”
A School Board attorney, Dawn Morris, said she has not yet had a chance to review the lawsuit and therefore could not comment.
Douet is seeking $105,124 for three years’ pay, $150,000 for potential damages for loss of reputation and future income and employment and $250,000 for future damages due to loss of positions or payments in future positions, the lawsuit said.
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