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Lafayette School Board Member Calls Police On Superintendent

Tension has reached a new level with the Lafayette Parish School Board after its Wednesday night meeting allegedly got physical.

Board member Tehmi Chassion filed a complaint with police claiming Superintendent Pat Cooper grabbed his arm and yelled in his face during a closed-door meeting.

The board entered into executive session to discuss a health care consultant’s possible lawsuit against the school system. Media present at the meeting live-tweeted the entire incident.

Chassion stayed behind when the board emerged after 30 minutes to set a public meeting about the litigation and to adjourn the meeting. Three officers showed up shortly thereafter to take Chassion’s statement.

According to The Advocate, Cooper denied the allegations and said Chassion became irate at insurance/risk management director Mona Bernard when asking for an email relating to the discussion. Chassion said Cooper spun him around in his chair and grabbed him.

Police interviewed board President Hunter Beasley, board members Rae Trahan and Shelton Cobb and board attorney Roger Hamilton as witnesses to the incident, but no immediate action was taken against the superintendent.

The board hired Tikia Consulting Group last year to help choose a new health care administrator for the school system, but the firm never signed a contract. The board extended its existing contract with Blue Cross Blue Shield for another year without the consultant’s help, but Tikia is now demanding payment of $200,000.

Tikia issued a demand letter to the board on Monday demanding payment within 15 days to avoid suit.

A public meeting is scheduled on the consultant issue for Feb. 13 at 6 p.m.

Cooper talked with Nathan Pike and Bernadette Lee Thursday morning on “Nathan and Bernie in the Morning” to talk about what happened during the executive session. Click ‘Play’ below to listen to that interview.

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KPEL reached out to Chaisson for comment, but he declined to talk on or off the record.

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