Lafayette Parish School Board member seeks to eliminate funding for position

Lafayette Parish School Board member Tehmi Chassion has requested that the board eliminate funding for a $75,903 special assistant to the superintendent position held by someone without a high school diploma.

The request is on the board’s agenda as an introduction item for its 5:30 p.m. meeting Wednesday.

As part of Act 1 of the 2012 legislative session, which took effect last year, hiring and firing power shifted from school oards to superintendents, however; boards retained their authority over policies and budgets.

Superintendent Pat Cooper created the position in February 2012, a month after he started the job as the district’s leader, saying he needed an adviser to oversee facilities, maintenance, grounds and transportation issues.

In March, the School Board approved the appointment of Thad Welch, who previously worked with Cooper when he was superintendent in McComb, Miss. Welch has 17 years of experience as a facilities, maintenance, grounds and transportation director, according to his résumé.

Welch was one of 19 people who applied for the position and scored the highest of the seven people interviewed for the job, according to scoring sheets from the human resources department. He does not have a high school diploma, which was a requirement for the position.

Chassion first raised the issue of Welch’s lack of education at the board’s Jan. 9 meeting, and by its Jan. 23 meeting, Cooper presented an amended job description that stated a high school diploma or GED diploma is preferred.

The board was set to vote on the changed job description at its Feb. 6 meeting; however, Cooper pulled the item from the agenda. At the same meeting, the board voted 5-4 to reconsider its March action that appointed Welch; however, the vote carried no power in removing Welch from his job.

Prior to the board’s discussion of whether to reconsider its March action, Cooper told board members that the board had appointed employees in the past who did not comply with the educational requirements when hired. After the Feb. 6 meeting, Cooper said he had no plans to fire Welch, who he said was “qualified.”

Also on Wednesday, Chassion plans to ask the board to consider another requirement: that any consultant hired by the school system have a high school diploma.

To view the full agenda, visit http://esb.lpssonline.com.