OPELOUSAS — A St. Landry Parish School Board member attended his first meeting Thursday following his indictment by a federal grand jury last month in a conspiracy to extort money in exchange for his vote for a new school superintendent.
Board member Quincy Richard Sr., 50, who was indicted Oct. 24 along with fellow board member John Miller, 71, voted on several issues during the meeting.
Miller did not attend Thursday’s meeting.
Richard and Miller were each formally charged in a three-count indictment, including one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and two counts of bribery involving federal programs, according to federal court documents.
Richard and Miller, both of Opelousas, are scheduled to be arraigned Nov. 15 in federal court in Lafayette.
From mid-July until Sept. 24, Richard and Miller are each accused of accepting $5,000 from Joseph Cassimere, a superintendent candidate who was cooperating with the FBI, according to the indictment.
In an interview prior to the meeting, Richard said he was innocent of the charges contained in the indictment.
“On the record and off the record, I am totally innocent. It was a matter of wrong place, wrong time,” said Richard, who declined further comment.
Richard said he plans to make a detailed public statement about the charges sometime in the future.
During the meeting Richard was asked to read an Academic, Instructional and Federal Programs Committee report, but he declined, and board member Charles Ross handled the matter instead.
One of Richard’s votes at Thursday’s meeting was for a resolution to the State Bond Commission seeking approval for a $300,000 bond application to replace computer software for a central office accounting system.
The indictment alleges that Miller and Richard met with Cassimere at the Quarters Casino and Travel Plaza with the intention of arranging the bribe.
Cassimere is currently serving as interim superintendent. He was one of five candidates who applied for the superintendent’s position.
The meeting occurred between a September meeting where board members interviewed the potential candidates and when a vote was set to be taken on the issue.
Since federal authorities announced in September that the alleged bribery incident was under investigation, the selection of a superintendent for St. Landry has been postponed indefinitely, board President Kyle Boss has said.
In other board business:
Building, Lands and Sites Committee report: Board members approved a Building, Lands and Sites Committee report that included the additional costs of between $35,000 and $40,000 for wiring that will connect a newly constructed classroom building complex at Park Vista Elementary.
In October, the board also voted to spend an additional $12,000 to connect sewerage pipes from the same buildings to a municipal system in a nearby residential neighborhood.
Board member Josie Frank criticized the project’s architect, whom she did not name, and general contractor M.D. Descant for not including the Internet wiring and sewerage connections in the original bid.
sCHOOL PERFORMANCE SCORE: In a non-voting matter, the board was told by accountability and assessment coordinator Angela Cassmiere that the parish’s overall school performance score improved from a D to a C, according to test results released by the state.
Despite the gains, the results also indicate that six schools received an F.
Five of the schools, South Street, Southwest, North and Creswell elementary schools and Opelousas Junior High are located in Opelousas.
The other school is Washington Elementary, which is in the town of Washington.
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