Judge denies former superintendent's request for new trial



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LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — A judge has denied a request from the former Lafayette Parish schools superintendent for a new trial to reconsider his November 2014 termination.

State District Judge Patrick Michot said Monday he stands by his September ruling that the board was within its rights to fire Pat Cooper after he set the salaries of five principals outside the board-adopted salary schedule in the 2013-14 school year, The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/1YWrDYa).

Michot said setting the salaries outside the board's approved salary schedule was a violation of both board policy and state law.

Cooper requested a new trial, asking Michot to reconsider the merits of his termination challenge.

Cooper has defended the salary decision as a way to attract principals to low-performing schools.

During Monday's hearing, Lane Roy, Cooper's attorney, told the judge that Cooper and Bruce Leininger, human resources director, were in agreement about principals' pay needing to be higher to attract candidates to the job.

Board attorney Dennis Blunt argued that Leininger didn't testify during Cooper's employment hearing with the school board in November 2014 that it was his suggestion to alter the principals' pay.

"(Cooper) made up his own salary schedule," Blunt told the judge.

Cooper said he plans to appeal.

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Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

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The Associated Press

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