St. Landry keeps interim superintendent in place

Despite two rounds of voting on five potential candidates Thursday, the St. Landry Parish School Board failed to pick a superintendent for a second straight month.

Joseph Cassimere, interim superintendent since March 2012, received four votes during each round.

Edward Brown, the district’s supervisor of child welfare and attendance, received five votes during each round.

According to the voting guidelines approved by the board in September, no candidate would be chosen as superintendent unless he or she received seven votes from the 13-member board.

One board member did not attend the meeting. Three board members abstained from voting.

The other applicants who did not receive votes during the two rounds of voting, include Port Barre High Principal William Duplechain, Stephensville Middle School Principal Daniel Rawls and Lafourche Parish Supervisor of Special Education Charles Michel.

Michel was the only applicant who did not attend the meeting.

The board was also scheduled to choose a superintendent at its February meeting, but voted to table the matter. That left the issue eligible to be considered at Thursday’s meeting, according to board policy.

In an interview at the end of the meeting, board attorney Gerard Caswell said he is uncertain what will happen next in connection with selecting a superintendent.

“I really don’t know. The only thing is now to reopen the position. They (the board) have already voted,” Caswell said.

Following the vote, Cassimere addressed the board during his monthly comments that are routinely part of the meeting agenda.

“I have a job to do. I’ve been a fighter all my life. I don’t quit. I don’t get in a race to stop,” Cassimere said.

Cassimere said he has been acting superintendent during a time when the Louisiana Department of Education considered assuming control of the district, which last year had a projected $3.9 million general fund budget shortfall.

“This is my home. I have no intentions of leaving St. Landry Parish. I’ve always said that I will respect the decisions of this board,” Cassimere said.

Prior to the vote, the board considered several motions in connection with either delaying its vote or appointing Brown or Cassimere as superintendent.

Each of those motions failed, which led Caswell to instruct the board to vote on the agenda item regarding the naming of a superintendent.

Board member John Miller, who pleaded not guilty in November to federal bribery charges accusing him of accepting $5,000 in cash to vote for Cassimere, did not attend Thursday’s meeting.

Board member Quincy Richard, who also pleaded not guilty in November to federal bribery charges accusing him of accepting $5,000 in cash to vote for Cassimere, attended Thursday’s meeting but did not vote.

Before the voting, Richard addressed the board on why he thought voting on the superintendent should be done Thursday, instead of waiting until the court system resolves the issue involving him and Miller.

“It’s an ongoing thing. To have waited until the legal issues are over is a misrepresentation to the public. … The plan was to go through the process. I’m offended by this and (the voters) should be offended too. This (Richard’s court case) could take years,” he said.

The board was originally scheduled to choose a superintendent in September, but the charges against Richard and Miller caused Kyle Boss, last year’s board president, to delay the matter until Thursday.

After both votes, board member Anthony Standberry said other school districts are wondering why St. Landry cannot pick a superintendent.

“My colleagues from all over the state are asking me what is going on in the district,” Standberry said.

Voting for Cassimere during each round were Standberry, Charles Ross, Randy Wagley and Josie Frank.

Brown received votes from Candace Gerace, Huey Wyble, Kyle Boss, Roger Young and board President Harry Fruge.

Richard, Ronald Carriere and Raymond Cassimere abstained. Cassimere is the brother of Joseph Cassimere.

In a related matter Thursday, the board voted 7-4 to deny a recommendation of the Personnel Committee to increase Joseph Cassimere’s compensation as interim superintendent.

The committee’s recommendation did not include how much more Cassimere should be paid.

Carriere attempted to get the item removed from consideration, but Caswell said “It was an item decided upon unanimously by the committee to be brought before the board for discussion.”

Standberry, Ross, Wagley and Frank voted to add extra compensation for Cassimere.

Voting against extra compensation were Gerace, Carriere, Wyble, Boss, Richard, Young and Fruge.

Raymond Cassimere abstained.

Joseph Cassimere replaced Donnie Terron as superintendent. Terron replaced Michael Nassif, who stepped down as superintendent in November 2011. Nassif replaced the late Lanny Moreau.