Our Views: Jeff School Board oblivious to abuse

Thursday, 12 October 2017, 01:18:16 PM. It sounds like the office from hell, if a report about actions of a Jefferson Parish School Board member is even remotely accurate.

It sounds like the office from hell, if a report about actions of a Jefferson Parish School Board member is even remotely accurate.

In 2015, the board commissioned a lawyer to look into complaints from the board secretary, who has since resigned and has now filed a lawsuit against the board. The outside lawyer reported that over a seven-month period in 2015, board member Cedric Floyd barraged the secretary with hundreds of phone calls and text messages, many of them after business hours, often on the employee’s personal cellphone.

Floyd was at times solicitous, according to the report, telling the secretary that he was "thinking about" her in one call and that his "world was coming to an end" because a few minutes had gone by without a call from her. At other times, the report says, Floyd was angry and bullying, telling her on one occasion, "I can't beat you up now. I will call you back.”

The report shows that over period in question, Floyd, who was then the board's president, called Hunter more than 1,000 times and sent her more than 400 text messages on both her work and personal cellphones. He berated her for work he considered subpar and sometimes asked her personal questions that went beyond the bounds of a proper employer-employee relationship, the report says.

As with most scandals, the attempted cover-up seems as bad as the initial wrongdoing. The outside attorney’s report was denied to The New Orleans Advocate, because the system called it a “personnel matter.” The board did not only want to hide the report from outsiders; members did not want to look at it themselves, a panel of ostriches with their heads in the sand.

Attorney I. Harold Koretzky delivered the report to school system officials in October 2015, but the board put off considering it for three months. In February 2016, a proposal to consider it publicly failed, and then a motion to take the board into closed session to discuss it also failed.

In a courtroom, the issues including any mitigating circumstances will presumably come to light.

Still, maybe we don’t know legal strategies very well, but we can’t think that the board helped themselves with stonewalling the Koretzky report.

Whatever the outcome of this particular case, we think board members owe the public an explanation for why they sought to bury a report critical of one of their own. The School Board should be a public trust, not a private fiefdom.

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