U.S. District Judge Richard Haik has dismissed Greg Davis' lawsuit against the LPSB, yet in his ruling, the federal judge doesn't bite his tongue in pointing out the "threat" being posed by certain board members.
"[T]his Court agrees the dysfunction, inaction, and poor example being exhibited by the [school board] ... continue to negatively impact the children of this community and should be addressed." - U.S. District Judge Richard Haik
U.S. District Judge Richard Haik has dismissed Greg Davis' lawsuit against the LPSB, yet in his ruling, the federal judge doesn't bite his tongue in pointing out the "poor example" being set by certain board members; he also lays out a path for keeping the suit alive in a different jurisdiction.
Haik's ruling was issued Tuesday morning in response to a motion from LPSB's legal counsel calling for the suit's dismissal, arguing federal court wasn't the proper venue for such a complaint. The lawsuit was filed by Davis - director of the Cajundome and a longtime public education advocate - in response to the ongoing push by six board members to terminate Superintendent Pat Cooper, as well as the drawn-out standoff in balancing this year's budget.
Along with calling for the disqualification of board members Tehmi Chassion and Mark Allen Babineaux from voting on Cooper's future with the school system, alleging a history of bias by both board members, it also requested the board revert to the previous fiscal year's budget until a suitable budget could be passed, one that didn't result in massive cuts detrimental to the system's at-risk students.
In his dismissal, Haik writes:
The Complaint also details a brief history of the Lafayette Parish School Board and School District over the past few years, as well as the incredibly difficult relationship between Dr. Cooper and various board members, particularly Mr. Chassion and Mr. Babineaux.
Unfortunately, missing is the standing for Mr. Davis to bring these claims and ripeness of the claims for adjudication, resulting in a lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Ultimately, Haik doesn't think the issue should be decided in federal court, yet, he makes sure to point out the importance of what Davis is trying to do, especially as it relates to the shenanigans of Babineaux, Chassion and the four other anti-Cooper board members and the grave impact it will likely have on the students of Lafayette Parish.
Haik does show some disappointment in dismissing the case, writing (emphasis is ours):
It is unfortunate because this Court agrees the dysfunction, inaction, and poor example being exhibited by the Lafayette Parish School Board and some parties associated with the Lafayette Parish School System continue to negatively impact the children of this community and should be addressed.
Although the ongoing discourse is disappointing and a threat to the entire community, particularly those young members who have entrusted those in power within the Lafayette Parish School System to carry out their duties honorably and in the best interest of their charges, it is an ongoing process which does not appear to be ripe for adjudication at this time, in this Court, nor through this plaintiff.
Regarding the bias claim against Chassion and Babineaux, Haik points out that such a complaint should have been filed by Cooper, not Davis. And since Davis' claims regarding the budget are tied to state law, according to Haik, that's where the issue must be addressed.
Despite his dismissal, Haik stresses the importance of the claims made against the board, writing:
[T]he dismissal of the State law claims from this venue is not a reflection on the merits of those issues. The claims asserted in this case may properly belong in State Court and this Court has no intention of precluding those rights.