LAFAYETTE — An investigation is under way into how a television news reporter obtained a copy of a Carencro High School student’s behavior plan for use in a broadcast about a student-teacher’s removal from campus last week, Principal Ken Roebuck said Monday.
“That’s confidential information on our children,” and its release compromised the school counselor’s relationship with that student, Roebuck said.
In a memo Sunday to Lafayette Parish Superintendent Pat Cooper and Assistant Superintendent Sandra Billeaudeau, Roebuck accused School Board member Mark Allen Babineaux of giving the student’s behavior plan to the reporter.
On Monday, Roebuck said that after sending the memo, he learned that Babineaux was not involved in sending the student’s behavior plan to the reporter.
“Whoever gave it to them violated the law,” he said.
Roebuck said he did not see the broadcast in which the student behavior plan was used, but it was connected to a story on his removal of a University of Louisiana at Lafayette student-teacher from his high school campus Thursday.
The student-teacher, Derrick Comeaux, attended the School Board’s meeting Wednesday and shared his concerns about disruptive students and their foul language.
Comeaux also claimed that sending disruptive students to the office was ineffective.
He said school administrators did not take action against a student who threatened him until Comeaux said he planned to hire an attorney and file a restraining order.
The next morning, a school resource officer removed Comeaux from the campus.
Following the incident, Roebuck referred media questions about the incident to Billeaudeau.
She cited Comeaux’s lack of professionalism in repeating students’ foul language verbatim in public and for not following protocol and reporting his concerns to his supervising teacher and administrators as reasons for his removal from campus.
Roebuck said that while he thinks Comeaux could have been more professional in his remarks and also misrepresented the work of school administrators and counselors, his removal was an issue of safety.
Roebuck said concern over Comeaux’s comments about what he would do if that student’s threat was realized led to him being removed from campus.
“In Mr. Comeaux’s speech to the public, he declared that it was his intention, ‘that if any student on my campus laid a hand on him, then he would have to take matters into his own hands,’ ” Roebuck wrote. “This is an implied threat as to his course of action. It is a matter of public record. Whether or not he would actually do it is not pertinent.”
Roebuck said Monday that he paraphrased Comeaux’s comment.
The student-teacher did not state he would put his hands on a student; rather, Comeaux said: “Had this student put their hands on me, then we would have addressed it in another manner.”
Roebuck said the comment still concerned him.
“I stand by the decision I made,” the principal said Monday.
In his memo, Roebuck said that if Comeaux had been allowed to stay and any incident followed between him and a student, then Roebuck and the school system “would be liable for previous intent.”
In response to a request for comment, Comeaux sent The Advocate a copy of an email to Cooper on Sunday.
In it, Comeaux accuses Roebuck of taking his comment out of context and misquoting him.
Comeaux said he was implying his intention to file a restraining order or assault charges if the student had physically harmed him.
Comeaux wrote in the email that Roebuck’s inference that he would harm a student “is sickening” and claims Roebuck gave the superintendent false information.
Roebuck said Comeaux had “every right to give his opinion as to the conditions in the classroom” and those opinions didn’t factor into his decision to end Comeaux’s student-teaching service at the school.
In the memo, Roebuck also criticized Babineaux and board member Tehmi Chassion for publicly questioning his decision to remove Comeaux.
On Monday, Babineaux said that while he disagrees with Roebuck’s decision, he will not intervene in an administrative matter.
He said he did not interpret Comeaux’s comment as an “implied” threat, but rather assumed Comeaux meant he would have filed a restraining order.
Babineaux said he would like the board to openly discuss discipline issues and giving teachers authority over when a disruptive student returns to the classroom at its next meeting on April 3.