Former LPSS maintenance chief loses appeal

by Walter Pierce

Thad Welch was ultimately and inextricably hitched to the star-crossed tenure of Pat Cooper.

The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal has upheld a lower court’s dismissal of a wrongful termination lawsuit filed against the Lafayette school system’s former interim superintendent and the school board by Thad Welch, the former head of maintenance, grounds and transportation for the school system.

Burnell LeJeune

Welch filed suit soon after Burnell LeJeune, appointed interim superintendent following the ouster of embattled Superintendent Pat Cooper in November of 2014, terminated Welch. The board had eliminated funding for Welch‘s position in the spring of 2012.

According to the 3rd Circuit opinion released today (June 1), Welch was offered an alternative position in the school system “but the pay was dramatically less than in his prior position, so he refused the offer.”

Welch filed suit against LeJeune and the Lafayette Parish School Board a month after he was canned. District Judge Ed Rubin dismissed the suit, granting the defendants’ request for an exception of no cause of action.

“Mr. Welch’s allegations against Mr. LeJeune seem to be nothing more than an attempt to shoot the messenger, so to speak,” Appellate Judge Billy Howard Ezell writes for the 2-1 majority.

Ezell goes on:

Mr. Welch merely claims that Mr. LeJeune never gave him “a reason for his termination, except that the Interim Superintendent advised him that there was simply ‘no money in the budget’ to fund the position...” According to his own petition, this was true ...

The appeals court was equally dismissive of Welch’s claims against the board:

Nowhere within the four corners of his petition does Mr. Welch set forth any facts establishing the LPSB’s procedures for the dismissal of non-tenured school employees, nor does he allege any specific or even general violation of any such procedures. His conclusory allegations concerning LPSB politics or the budgetary priorities of the LPSB are insufficient to state a cause of action.