Pat Cooper files complaint against board member

Babineaux revealed discussion, he says

Lafayette Parish School Superintendent Pat Cooper has filed a complaint with the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board against Mark Allen Babineaux alleging the School Board member breached the confidentiality of an Oct. 16 executive session.

Cooper filed the complaint Nov. 22 related to comments Babineaux made during the School Board’s Nov. 20 meeting.

“Mr. Babineaux, in open session and documented by TV cameras broadcasting to the community and surrounding area, divulged the activities and comments that were discussed in the executive session,” Cooper wrote in his complaint letter.

The executive session was held Oct. 16 to discuss a legal bill submitted by Cooper, who had hired an attorney earlier this year after some board members claimed he violated board policy and later formally reprimanded him for it.

During the Nov. 20 meeting, Babineaux referenced the executive session during board discussion about whether to dismiss the District Attorney’s Office as the board’s general counsel.

That discussion stemmed from some board members’ objections to Assistant District Attorney Roger Hamilton’s handling of the board’s decision in July to hire special counsel to investigate Cooper.

Hamilton submitted a letter on Oct. 23 to the Attorney General’s Office stating he found no cause for an investigation and would ask the board to rescind its resolution to hire special counsel.

The letter came a week after the board’s Oct. 16 executive session.

Board member Greg Awbrey has said that in the meeting Hamilton attempted to ask board members questions related to its resolution to hire a law firm to investigate Cooper.

During the Nov. 20 meeting, Babineaux questioned Hamilton’s actions during the closed session.

“When asked if the information we’d give him would go to the attorney general, (Hamilton) said no… He then sent an unsolicited opinion to the attorney general,” Babineaux said.

On Wednesday, Babineaux said that he doesn’t owe Cooper confidentiality.

“He’s not my client,” Babineaux said. “When I’m on the board floor, I’m acting as a board member.”

Babineaux questioned how the media received access to Cooper’s letter to the disciplinary board. Cooper did not release the letter, but confirmed he lodged the complaint.

Cooper’s complaint was assigned to an attorney at the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board, according to a Dec. 11 letter from the disciplinary board.

The complaint review process is confidential and information is made public only if and when a formal charge is brought against the lawyer under review, said Charles Plattsmier, the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board’s chief disciplinary counsel.