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Wednesday, February 12, 2020



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Ex-Lafourche schools chief takes new job

Ex-Lafourche schools chief takes new job

Lafourche Parish’s former superintendent, who left the position last fall citing health concerns, started a new job earlier last month as the Iberville Parish School District’s chief academic officer.

Louis Voiron led Lafourche schools for nearly seven months before taking medical leave for unspecified health reasons in July. In mid-November, the Lafourche Parish School Board announced after a series of special meetings that Voiron had decided not to return to the position in October.

The board bought Voiron out of his contract for a lump sum of $220,000, paid in full Jan. 3, and restored all of his sick days. Board President Brooke Huddleston said in a letter that the deal saved the school district, and taxpayers, $48,000 compared to if Voiron stayed on the payroll.

As the chief academic officer, Voiron stands to make at least $109,764 per year, according to the Iberville Parish School District’s salary schedule.

The district accepted applications from Nov. 19 to Dec. 4, according to Arthur Joffrion, Iberville’s superintendent.

Voiron hasn’t responded to The Courier and Daily Comet’s requests for comment.

After the newspapers contacted all 15 School Board members about Voiron’s recent hiring, board attorney Pat Amedee said in an email that he advised all of the members to “withhold any public comment.”

Amedee pointed to state law that declares “a school employee’s personnel file shall not be divulged to third parties.”

“It creates an expectation of privacy to employment records of school board employees -- both past and present,” said Amedee in an email. “In my opinion, any discussion risks disclosure of information from Dr. Voiron’s personnel file.”

Asked why Voiron’s contract had to be bought out and the reason he couldn’t return to work, Amedee said he didn’t believe the board could comment beyond what was disclosed in November’s settlement and the board president’s letter or risk a “violation of Dr. Voiron’s right of privacy.”

“We made every effort to disclose as much as we could, including making public the settlement agreement itself, along with a public statement,” Amedee said.

That agreement aimed to settle the superintendent’s contract and any existing claims, “both known and unknown,” against the board. In the letter, Huddleston said, “Dr. Voiron agrees that his payment and other consideration contained in the agreement satisfies his rights under his contract with the board and he releases the board from any future liability.”

Two of the 15 board members choose to respond to the Courier’s inquiry over email. Both board members Valerie Bourgeois and Tyler Dufrene offered their continued support of Voiron.

“Dr. Voiron is a great person and leader. He was and is still respected in this district,” said Bourgeois. “Can’t we just wish him well and say thanks for all your years of dedication to Lafourche? He was an integral part of making us third in the state and an A-district.”

Prior to his stint as superintendent, Voiron served as director of human resources, a principal, assistant principal and teacher in his 23 years with the Lafourche School District.

Dufrene noted that Voiron “dedicated a significant portion of his life to the Lafourche Parish School District.”

“His acceptance of another job indicates he is able to continue contributing to public education and that he is healthy, which is all one could ask for,” Dufrene added. “I continue to pray for him and wish Dr. Voiron nothing but the very best.”

When Voiron first took sick leave, the board was slammed by principals and parish residents who alleged that Voiron’s condition was caused by stress from its members. Board members denied the allegations of overreach.

The board recently voted interim superintendent Jarod Martin stay on and continue to lead the district. The contract is still being negotiated.

Halle Parker can be reached at hparker@houmatoday.com or 857-2204. Follow her on Twitter, @_thehalparker.