Wrongful termination suit filed against Lafayette School District

By Kyle Barnett | Aug 16, 2012

Superintendent Dr. Pat Cooper Wrongful termination fled against Lafayette public school system alleges misuse of new tenure law

Superintendent Dr. Pat Cooper

LAFAYETTE – Three teachers who were terminated by their local public school district have filed suit for wrongful termination.

Judy Miller, Nadena Sonnier and Monique Taylor filed suit against Lafayette Parish School Board and Superintendent Dr. Pat Cooper in the 15th Judicial District Court on Aug. 14.

The plaintiffs claim they were terminated by the school system without a hearing even though they were tenured employees. Dr. Cooper, according to the filing, was not authorized by the board to institute a removal proceeding. The plaintiffs assert that although a law passed in the 2012 session of the state legislature allows for removal of tenured teachers without a hearing, Dr. Cooper was applying it retroactively to the 2011 school year given the law did not take effect until July 1, 2012 when that school year was already concluded.

Cooper is accused of sending certified letters on July 27 to all three teachers before the effective date of the law requesting they ask for a hearing regarding their employment status within seven days, although the law at the time required a 20 day period.

In addition, Cooper is alleged to have sent a second certified letter to all teachers on Aug. 5 that implemented the provisions of the new law by terminating the employees, even though the reasons for their terminations were based on allegations of actions that happened prior to implementation of the new law.

The plaintiffs are seeking that the letters sent by Dr. Cooper be judged null and void and they be declared tenured employees of the board and given a temporary restraining order against the board and that they be given the chance to defend themselves in a hearing if further efforts to remove them from employment are taken.

The plaintiffs are represented by J. Isaac Funderburk of Abbeville-based Funderburk & Herpin.

The case has been assigned to Division J Judge Kristin Earles.

Case no. 2012-4459.

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