Federal lawsuit filed today against Lafayette Parish school board members Tehmi Chassion and Mark Babineaux

Photo by KADN staff

Suit claiming bias practices against Superintendent Dr. Pat Cooper, ultimately hurting board's decisions for school system

Thursday, August 7, 2014 - 4:02pm

A federal lawsuit was filed today by long time school system advocates, Cajundome director Greg Davis and his attorney Gary McGoffin, against school board members Tehmi Chassion and Mark Babineaux.  The suit is an attempt to stop the board's push for Superintendent Dr. Pat Cooper's termination.  It calls for the disqualification of the two board members from voting on any issues related to the board's investigation of Cooper, providing a long list of examples of bias committed by Babineaux and Chassion against Cooper since his arrival.  The suit also addresses budget concerns, but Tehmi Chassion says he has nothing to hide.

"I encourage anybody that has any issues with what I've done as a school board member, which is legally correct and right, to go ahead and please file any injunction or lawsuit that they would choose to file.  This is an attempt to get us to stop the investigation and as well let other people do what they want with our budget, and I refuse to allow anyone to legally blackmail me into doing something when I know I've only done the right thing ever since I've been elected to this board," says Tehmi Chassion, board member and defendant.

"The community needs to know right now that the fight with Dr. Cooper by the board is personal and it's biased.  They need to know that the budget crisis that we've got right now is solely a product of the board both in their inability to come to grips with making the decisions with being able to utilized the rainy day fund, seems to me like it's raining outside pretty hard, and with some of those other decisions some of the budget assumptions that they're using.  We don't have to be in this position," says Gary McGoffin, attorney filing suit.

At last night's school board meeting there was an attempt made for parties on both sides to sit down, discuss the suit, and find a resolution before legal action was made.  Both Chassion and Babineaux, along with Rae Trahan, Hunter Beasley, and Tommy Angelle, voted against having a meeting and resolving the issues.  This is why McGoffin says he filed the complaint today for permanent injunction banning both Chassion and Babineaux from voting against Cooper for termination, and to roll over last year's budget.  McGoffin says he will file a separate application to get an immediate hearing in court.

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