Control of popular Catholic high school sought in federal court dispute; St. Augustine last school in country to use corporal punishment

Alejandro de los Rios Jul. 13, 2011, 12:00pm

St. Augustine

New Orleans' society of Josephite priests have filed a federal injunction seeking to stop what they perceive is an attempted takeover of the historic St. Augustine High School in Gentilly.

The lawsuit claims the board of directors held a secret meeting in June to plan "an unlawful coup" with a goal of removing the Josephites as the "ultimate authority of St. Augustine."

The suit claims that the by-laws passed at the June meeting were "invalid and ineffective under both the corporate documents of St. Augustine and Louisiana law."

The suit is the latest in a long line of public spats between the Josephites and the St. Augustine Board of Directors.

In February, the Archdiocese of New Orleans barred the school from using corporal punishment as a disciplinary tool.

St. Augustine was the last Catholic school in the country that used corporal punishment and students and parents gained significant media attention when they rallied in support of 'paddling,' as it was used in the school.

In June, a popular principle who lent his voice to the students' and parents' support of corporal punishment was transferred by Josephites to Balitmore, Md.

The school is run by and operated by the St. Joseph Society of the Sacred Heart based in Balitmore. The Board of Directors sued the society for defamation after it condemned the schools use of corporal punishment.

The lawsuit seeks to bar any action by the school's Board of Directors and to nullify any bylaws that have been passed.

Federal Suit 2:11-cv-01616

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