LPSS’ Brad Duhon’s days are numbered

by Patrick Flanagan

The lone casualty in that May 25 (non) incident involving Judice Middle School teachers, a privately contracted school bus and an end-of-school celebration has three options: resign, be canned or become a bus driver.

Brad Duhon

Come next week, Brad Duhon's paid administrative leave from the LPSS will come to an end, leaving the assistant director of transportation to choose from one of three options determining his fate with the school system.

Duhon's leave from his post with the school system is the result of a May 25 bar-hopping incident involving a group of Judice Middle School teachers celebrating their last official day of school. Duhon volunteered as their chauffeur that day, driving a privately owned school bus contracted by the teachers. The incident blew up after the teachers began posting Facebook photos of their end-of-school celebration.

The story made headlines, and Duhon has since become the incident's lone casualty.

According to Duhon, who spoke recently with The IND by phone, his administrative leave will come to an end on June 30. When that day comes, he says, he's been given three options by LPSS officials: resign, become a bus driver or face termination.

Here's Duhon's story of what happened in the lead-up to getting behind the wheel of the bus on May 25.

"The Friday before is when I told my staff I wouldn't be there [May 25]," explains Duhon. "It was common practice to do that. Our office is so busy that we'll just say it in passing, like 'I'll be out tomorrow,' or 'mark me out for yesterday.'"

Despite the involvement of the teachers and the Judice Middle School principal who gave permission to the teachers that day to leave early, Duhon says he's the only employee to face repercussions for the events of May 25. (Judice Middle School Principal Sam Clay recently stepped down from his position, but according to LPSS officials, his decision was a surprise and completely unrelated to the bar-hopping incident.)

"I'm not sure why that is; maybe Dr. [Donald] Aguillard thinks I'm lying to him, but I have no reason to lie, I had plenty of vacation days to take," says Duhon. "I think a lot of it has to do with the budget crunch and that I was a high-dollar salary -- over $100,000 with salary and benefits, which equals about two teachers."

Duhon has served in his current role with LPSS for about four years, and in that time, he says he's helped tighten up bus routes, reduce the number of drivers (from 297 to about 277), and ultimately save money for the school system.

"I came on under [former Superintendent Pat] Cooper, and that's probably one of the other things -- they're getting rid of a lot of people under Cooper," says Duhon. "Hey this is extreme, but it is what it is. I've come to grips and will just move on."

The IND spoke with LPSS Chief Administrative Officer Joe Craig who declined comment saying this was a "personnel matter."