Superintendent: Community Input Needed Before Changing Teacher Policies
The Lafayette Parish School System is seeking feedback on new stipulations for its teacher contracts and sick-leave policies before those items are laid out for vote by the school board.
Superintendent Pat Cooper pulled items from the agenda that pertained to those policies at the start of Wednesday's Lafayette Parish School Board meeting, citing a need for input from teachers, administrators and members of the community before changes are enacted.
A new addition to both tenured and nontenured teacher contracts could mandate a $2,000 penalty if any teacher breaks contract and resigns before the school year is complete. Also up for revision is the teacher sick-leave policy.
We looked at a couple of things in the last month or so that alarmed us.
"We looked at a couple of things in the last month or so that alarmed us," Cooper said, adding that the school system spends about $16 million annually on sick-leave payments — a sum he said equates to salaries for around 250 teaching positions.
"What we have are examples of people leaving and going on cruises, and because they don't have to have a doctor's excuse until after the sixth day (absent), they can say they're sick," Cooper said.
He also claimed that the amount spent on substitute teachers to cover teacher absences could fund about 73 teaching positions.
Mark Cockerham was absent from the meeting, but the rest of the board approved removing the items from the agenda — except for Tommy Angelle, who said he wanted to discuss the action items as they were listed on the agenda "and hopefully, defeat them."
Cooper argued that the Board wasn't prepared to vote on the changes.
"We need to go through the vetting process...to let teachers and the public look at it and get a chance to decide," Cooper said.
Some of those groups include the Louisiana Association of Educators and Parents Empowered of Lafayette, among other community and faith-based groups, Cooper said.