April 10, 2015 10:08 AM

The Lafayette Parish School Board pared down its list of potential superintendents this week eliminating nine names. That leaves three finalists in the running to become our school system's 28th superintendent (not counting a handful of interim supers who briefly held the job during the 146-year history of the Lafayette Parish School System).

For the most part, the board is keeping it close to home this time around, with two of its picks for Pat Cooper's potential successor coming from right here in Acadiana. Those candidates are Don Aguillard and Francis Touchet.

The third finalist won't be coming from that far off either, just over the Basin Bridge in East Baton Rouge Parish. His name's Carlos Sam and he's the assistant superintendent there, in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, since July 2012.

Don Aguillard
For Lafayette Parish, Aguillard should be a familiar name. Not only was he among the candidates considered during the board's 2011 search for a super, which ended with the hire of Cooper (it's worth noting that Cooper still has a lawsuit pending in district court challenging his termination by the board last November). Aguillard's name was also bandied about during the 2007 super search after the board's termination of James Easton; though Aguillard never officially applied during that process, which eventually ended with the board deciding to give the job to its interim super at the time, Burnell LeMoine.

Aguillard has been the superintendent of the St. Mary Parish School System since 2004, and aside from his previous attempt for the LPSS gig in 2011, he also has a direct connection to our school system, having worked in varying roles here for much of his career as an educator. Aguillard was an assistant principal at Acadiana High for 12 years, he's held several positions at the central office (director of management information systems, area director) and was Carencro High's principal for four years.

Since 2012, Francis Touchet has worked with the state Department of Education as a network leader. Before that, however, the majority of his career was spent in Vermilion Parish, where he served as assistant principal of Abbeville High for four years, three years as Erath High's assistant principal, followed by a seven year stint as Erath High's principal.

Francis Touchet

Carlos Sam
Carlos Sam's entire career so far has been spent in Baton Rouge. He's currently the associate superintendent of the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, a post he's held since July 2012. He was also the district's interim superintendent for five months, between February and June 2012. Other posts include eight years as Park Forest Middle School's assistant principal and nine years as the East Baton Rough Parish School System's director of innovative and specialized programs.

According to a tally of votes cast this week on the 12 candidates, Aguillard was the only applicant to receive unanimous support from all 9 school board members. Sam and Touchet each received seven votes. The process ultimately involved each board member voting on three names apiece from the pool of 12.

From a report by The Advertiser, here's a breakdown of who voted for who:

MaryMorrison: Donna Alleman, Donald Aguillard, Francis Touchet

TommyAngelle: Carlos Sam, Donald Aguillard, Francis Touchet

ElroyBroussard: Carlos Sam, Donald Aguillard, Joanie Hudson

TehmiChassion: Carlos Sam, Donald Aguillard, Francis Touchet

BrittLatiolais: Sheila Guidry, Francis Touchet, Donald Aguillard

JustinCentanni: Donald Aguillard, Carlos Sam, Francis Touchet

DawnMorris: Carlos Sam, Donald Aguillard, Sheila Guidry

ErickKnezek (absent): Donald Aguillard, Francis Touchet, Carlos Sam

JeremyHidalgo: Donald Aguillard, Francis Touchet, Carlos Sam

Up next will be a special meeting set for April 22 in which Aguillard, Touchet and Sam will undergo a first-round interview with the board.

With a shrinking window before interim Superintendent Burnell LeJeune makes his retirement official this summer, board members say they're hoping to bring the process to an end with a new super picked out at some point next month.