Lafayette School Board Removes DA’s Office As General Counsel
LAFAYETTE, La. (KPEL) -- Lafayette Parish School Board members voted 6 to 3 to relieve the 15th Judicial District Attorney's Office from its role as the general counsel of the Lafayette Parish School System.
Historically, the district attorney's office has provided an assistant district attorney to provide counsel on open meeting laws, legal interpretations, and other items.
Wednesday night's vote came amidst allegations that assistant district attorney Roger Hamilton, who replaced James Simon as general counsel upon his retirement, violated the trust and confidence of the school board when he notified the Attorney General's office that he found no cause for the board's request for an investigation into actions taken by school system Superintendent Dr. Pat Cooper.
School board members Gregory Awbrey, District 6, and Mark Babineaux, District 1, argued that Hamilton acted contrary to the interests of the school board when he sent that Oct. 23 letter to the Attorney General's office.
Other board members, as well as some members of the public--including former state representative Ricky Hardy--called for an exercise of fiscal restraint. Under the arrangement with the district attorney's, the appointed board attorney provided legal counsel to the system free of charge.
Board member Hunter Beasley, District 8, suggested using a combination of the district attorney for general counsel at board meetings and outside counsel for matters requiring a specialized attorney.
Awbrey, Beasley, Babineaux, Rae Trahan, District 9, Tehmi Chassion, District 4, and Tommy Angelle, District 2, voted to relieve the district attorney's office. Kermit Boullion, District 5, Mark Cockerham, District 7, and Shelton Cobb, District 3, voted against the measure.