Not so fast on superintendent, one peeved board member says

By Jessica Williams, The Lens staff writer |

While Orleans Parish School Board President Thomas Robichaux has made his pick for the system’s interim superintendent clear, at least one board member disagrees and plans on offering other candidates.


Robichaux said Thursday night that he’s going to nominate Stan Smith, the district’s chief financial officer, to temporarily fill the position of Superintendent Darryl Kilbert, who’ll step down in June. Robichaux informed several members of the media of his intent late Thursday, but he did not discuss it during the board’s public committee meeting.

The lack of discussion about the issue is what’s got another board member, Ira Thomas, peeved.

Thomas said he hadn’t been informed of Robichaux’s intent, and for him to publicly announce Smith’s placement as if was a done deal is part of a systematic effort to shut him and two other board members, Cynthia Cade and Brett Bonin, out of the board’s decisions. Thomas also said he’ll nominate at least two other names for the spot on Tuesday.

“This is just another example of the white faction of this board deciding issues without including the other three members of the board, myself, Ms. Cade and Brett Bonin,” he said.

The faction he mentions includes Woody Koppel, Seth Bloom, and Robichaux, who are all white, and Lourdes Moran, who is Hispanic. Bonin, is white and Cade is black.

“I know as of my leaving that meeting yesterday, and you saw when I left, there was no mention of anyone filling in that leadership position, Thomas said. “For Mr. Robichaux to go public with this, without mentioning it to the other members of the board, it’s just another example of their intent of keeping myself out of important decisions.”

Thomas didn’t dispute that Smith, 66, has performed well during his time as chief financial officer.

“He’s done a great job because that’s his field,” he said.

But he said that other candidates with a more solid background in education would be better for the top spot. Rosalynne Dennis, who serves as the district’s executive director of exceptional children’s services, has already filled in for Kilbert when he was on sick leave, as well as on a number of other occasions, Thomas said. Dennis, appointed under former superintendent Al Davis, has held her current position for the last 12 years, and served as the system’s director of special education before that.

Executive director of human resources Armand Devezin, who also served under Davis as an interim deputy superintendent, is another one of Thomas’ choices.

He said he’d bring up both names at the full board meeting on Tuesday.

Smith said Thursday that he’d be willing to help in the transition, but that his intent for the future is to retire.

The board is expected to vote on the interim superintendent appointment as well as the appointment of Kathleen Padian, current executive director of charter schools, to the deputy superintendent of charter schools position on Tuesday.

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