MINUTES

 

POINTE COUPEE PARISH SCHOOL BOARD

SPECIAL MEETING

 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

 

The Pointe Coupee Parish School Board met in a special session on Thursday, September 24, 2009, at  337 Napoleon Street New Roads, Louisiana.  President James M. Cline called the meeting to order at 4:50 p.m.

 

Board members present were Chad Aguillard, Frank Aguillard, Brandon Bergeron, James M. Cline, Debbie Collins, Kevin Hotard, Anita LeJeune, and Thomas Nelson.

 

President Cline requested that Mr. Lawrence Smith, an audience member, lead the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America.

 

Mr. Cline requested that Larry Bossier offer the invocation. 

                                                                           - - - -

Tenure Hearing for Teacher.  The Pointe Coupee Parish School Board adopted a Resolution on August 31, 2009, calling a tenure hearing in accordance with L.R.S. 17:441,et. Seq. for Joetta Hunter-Joseph.

 

Mr. Cline announced that Ms. Hunter-Joseph has not responded to the notice for this hearing, and that neither she, nor anyone on her behalf, is present at this time.  He mentioned that because this is a personnel matter, he would entertain a motion for the Board to convene in executive session to conduct the tenure hearing pursuant to the authority of L.R.S. 42:6.1(A)(1) and (8) and L.R.S. 17:441, et. seq.  

 

Mr. Cline stated that the Board will deliberate the case privately.  Only Board members will be allowed to participate in the deliberations that will take place in this room.

 

Mr. Frank Aguillard made a motion to convene in an executive session, at 5:00 p.m., seconded by Brandon Bergeron.  Unanimously carried.

 

Executive Session  to discuss personnel matter.

 

Open Session.  On a motion by Mr. Brandon Bergeron, seconded by Mr. Frank Aguillard, the Board reconvened in open session at 6:20 p.m.

 

Attorney Larry Bossier, moderator for the School Board, announced that it was necessary for the Board to vote to consider whether or not Joetta Hunter-Joseph should be dismissed or disciplined as a teacher in the Pointe Coupee Parish School System on the grounds of willful neglect of duty and/or failure to fulfill the terms and/or performance objectives of her contract as recommended by the Superintendent.

The vote of the School Board on each question of fact and law is reflected below:

 

(1)        Do you find that the Superintendent has proved by a preponderance of the evidence that the facts alleged in Charge 1 are true?

 

YEAS:              Frank Aguillard, Jr., Brandon Bergeron, James M. Cline, Kevin Hotard, and Anita LeJeune
 

                        NAYS:              Chad Aguillard, Debbie Collins and Thomas Nelson
 

                        ABSTAINED:     None
 

            ABSENT:          None    

 

(2)        Do you find that Charge 1, as proven, constitutes willful neglect of duty on the part of Ms. Joetta Hunter- Joseph? 

 

Before voting on the question, Mr. Bossier gave a definition of "willful neglect of duty", 

 

Mr. Bossier stated that the term "willful neglect of duty" has been defined in the jurisprudence as "a specific action or failure to act in contravention of a direct order or identifiable school policy."  Howard v. West Baton Rouge Parish School Board, 793 So.2d 153 (La.5/29/09).  In other words, a teacher may be found by a school board to be guilty of willful neglect of duty if he/she has been intentionally insubordinate or has violated a policy of the Board.  A teacher may also be found guilty of willful neglect of duty if he/she did not conduct himself/herself "according to dictates of professionalism and common sense, even in the absence of a policy prohibiting cert conduct." Spurlock  v. East Feliciana Parish School Board, 885 So.2d 125 (La. App. 1 Cir. 5/25/04), writ denied, 885 So.2d 591 (La. 10/29/040.

 

YEAS:              Frank Aguillard, Jr., Brandon Bergeron, James M. Cline,  Kevin Hotard, and Anita LeJeune
 

                        NAYS:              Chad Aguillard, Debbie Collins and Thomas Nelson
 

                        ABSTAINED:     None
 

            ABSENT:          None

 

(3)        Do you find that Charge 1, as proven, constitutes failure on the part of Ms. Hunter-Joseph to fulfill the terms and/or performance objectives of her contract?

 

Mr. Bossier provided the following explanation prior to the Board casting their vote regarding the aforementioned question: Mr. Bossier stated that some certificated employees have contracts with their school boards that specify what is expected of them form the standpoint of job duties, employment and performance obligations.  An employee who failed to meet one or more of those job duties, employment and/or performance obligations could be found guilty of failure to fulfill the terms and/or to comply with the performance objectives of his/her position.  Other certificated employees do not receive written contracts but have their job duties, employment obligations and/or performance expectations outlined int heir job descriptions, terms of employment, school rules, and/or school procedures, which are approved by their school boards.  A failure on the part of an employee to comply with the terms of his/her job description, terms of employment, school rules, and or school procedures could be found to constitute a failure to fulfill those terms and/or to comply with the performance objectives of the position.  You should be able to point to specific language in a contract, job description, terms of employment, rule, or procedure that was violate or not met by the employee, however, before concluding that there has been a failure on the part of the employee to fulfill the terms and/or to comply with the performance objectives of her position.

 

YEAS:              Frank Aguillard, Jr., Brandon Bergeron, James M. Cline, Kevin Hotard, and Anita LeJeune
 

                        NAYS:              Chad Aguillard, Debbie Collins and Thomas Nelson
 

                        ABSTAINED:     None
 

            ABSENT:          None

 

(4)        Do you find that the Superintendent has proved by a preponderance of the evidence that the facts alleged in Charge 2 are true?

 

YEAS:              Frank Aguillard, Jr., Brandon Bergeron, James M. Cline, Kevin Hotard, and Anita LeJeune
 

                        NAYS:              Chad Aguillard, Debbie Collins and Thomas Nelson
 

                        ABSTAINED:     None
 

            ABSENT:          None

 

(5)        Do you find that Charge 2, as proven, constitutes willful neglect of duty on the part of Ms. Hunter-Joseph?

 

YEAS:              Frank Aguillard, Jr., Brandon Bergeron, James M. Cline, Kevin Hotard, and Anita LeJeune
 

                        NAYS:              Chad Aguillard, Debbie Collins and Thomas Nelson
 

                        ABSTAINED:     None
 

            ABSENT:          None

 

(6)        Do you find that Charge 2, as proven, constitutes failure on the part of Ms. Hunter-Joseph to fulfill the terms and/or performance objectives of her contract? 

 

YEAS:              Frank Aguillard, Jr., Brandon Bergeron, James M. Cline, Kevin Hotard, and Anita LeJeune
 

                        NAYS:              Chad Aguillard, Debbie Collins and Thomas Nelson
 

                        ABSTAINED:     None
 

            ABSENT:          None

 

Attorney Bossier stated that the Board was now at the point in the proceedings where they had to determine what disciplinary action should be considered to be appropriate for Ms Hunter-Joseph.  The Board will need to make that determination by motion made, seconded, and approved by majority vote of the total membership of the Board.  Before voting on that disciplinary action, he stated that the court decisions in Louisiana have concluded that School Board members should be advised that termination is not the only disciplinary action which can be taken against an employee.  Other types of disciplinary action that can be taken against an employee include letters of reprimand, placing an employee on probation, stripping an employee of tenure, suspending an employee with or without pay, and/or other types of disciplinary action short of termination.  It was further stated that of course, termination is also an option available to the Board.

 

President Cline entertained a motion as to what disciplinary action that the Board felt is appropriate and should be taken against Ms. Hunter-Joseph in this case.

 

Mr. Frank Aguillard made a motion to accept the Superintendent's recommendation to terminate the employee, effective July 27, 2009.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Kevin Hotard.  A roll call vote resulted in the following:

 

YEAS:              Frank Aguillard, Jr., Brandon Bergeron, James M. Cline, Kevin Hotard, and Anita LeJeune
 

            NAYS:              Chad Aguillard, Debbie Collins and Thomas Nelson
 

            ABSTAINED:     None
 

            ABSENT:          None

 

On a 5-3 vote of the Board, the motion passed.

                                                                           - - - -

 

Adjournment.  On a motion by Mr. Brandon Bergeron, seconded by Mr. Thomas Nelson LeJeune, the meeting adjourned at 6:25 p.m.

 

 

POINTE COUPEE PARISH SCHOOL BOARD
 

____________________________
James M. Cline, President                                 

 

 

____________________________
Linda D'Amico, Superintendent