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Superintendent Dr. Pat Cooper ready to move on from the hired assistant issue

Hired assistant does not have high school diploma driving negativity at school board meetings

Tuesday, March 12, 2013 - 4:18pm

"I'm pretty insistent that I'm the CEO and I'm running a $400 million operation.  I should be able to hire the people that I want," says Dr. Pat Cooper, superintendent of Lafayette Parish School Board.

And superintendent Dr. Pat Cooper wanted to hire Thad Welch as his assistant, a decision that's been a hot topic at school board meetings because Welch doesn't have a high school diploma.

"The community has to expect us to do exactly what we're doing with Mr. Welch and that is bringing in somebody who can save us money, who can be efficient, who can get the job done, who can serve our teachers and our students, and who is always out there on the job responding to people," says Dr. Cooper.

Mr. Welch replaced two people whose total salaries were almost $200,000.  He is making $76,000 which Dr. Cooper says saved the school board money, and he says Welch is getting the job done.

"Policy does allow the CEO to make those kinds of decisions to get the best qualified person, not necessarily the one that fits the total job description," says Cooper.

The superintendent says he is ready to move past this issue and start focusing more on what's really important, the students.  Dr. Cooper is hopeful that eventually everything will work out, but right now school board members are having to walk around each other just to figure out what route to take.  The item was pulled from action for the second time by board member Tehmi Chassion last week at the meeting.  The next school board meeting is scheduled for next Wednesday, March 20th.

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