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Landry named interim superintendent

By Rebecca Burk / L’Observateur / April 20, 1998

LUTCHER – Although local business and industry offered Tuesday to help the St. James School board decide on a new superintendent, the board decided on its own in just 10 minutes who would replace Superintendent John Boughton.

Boughton announced his retirement at the March 24 meeting. It will beeffective July 1.

After two failed substitute motions and an amendment to the original motion, board members voted 4-3 and chose Walter Landry, area supervisor for maintenance and operation, to be interim superintendent for a year.

Before any motion was made Willie Roussel of Kaiser spoke on behalf of the Industrial Managers Group of St. James Parish.”The members of IMG would like to thank John and the school board for the cooperation they have shown to us,” he said. “We want to make it one ofLouisiana’s best school systems, but much work needs to be done.

“The key to a good school system starts at the top,” he added. “It startswith the superintendent. IMG would encourage you to consider as manycandidates as possible and choose the best one. We are available forassistance. We know the educational process begins with thesuperintendent.”Richard Brazan of Vacherie encouraged the board to form a blue ribbon committee of business and industry leaders to help them consider candidates for the now-open position. He also suggested that boardmembers consider a nationwide search.

“Don’t automatically promote someone up from the ranks,” he said. “Theboard shouldn’t play politics and choose someone just because of favoritism.”The board ignored these suggestions, and board member Willis Octave immediately made a motion to hire Landry as superintendent with a contract to be discussed later.

“He is a very dedicated and hard-working person,” Octave said of Landry.

Octave’s motion was seconded by George Nassar.

At that, Lloyd LeBlanc made a motion to open the position immediately and take applications from people already within the system or those not in the system. “We need to choose the best candidate,” he said.LeBlanc’s motion was seconded by Kenneth Foret but failed 4-3 with Nassar, Octave, Richard Reulet and John Schexnayder voting against and LeBlanc, Foret and Carol Lambert voting for it.

With no motion on the table and no decision made, Foret made another substitute motion to ask Boughton to stay an extra six months so a more researched decision could be made. Lambert seconded the motion.Before board members voted, however, they asked Boughton if he would be willing to stay on as superintendent for a few more months. Boughton saidhe would have to let them know at the next meeting after discussing it with his wife.

“I cannot turn a board down that I have worked for 38 years,” he said.

The motion to ask Boughton to stay failed 3-3 with Nassar abstaining.

Octave, Schexnayder and Reulet voted against it, and LeBlanc, Foret and Lambert voted in favor.

With still no motion on the table to vote on and no decision made, Reulet made an amendment to Octave’s original motion, suggesting Landry be the next superintendent. His amendment was that Landry should be an interimsuperintendent with only a year-long contract. Nassar seconded themotion.

The motion passed 4-3 with LeBlanc, Foret and Lambert voting against it and Nassar, Octave, Schexnayder and Reulet voting yes.

Landry was overjoyed and extended his appreciation to the board.

“I want to thank the board for your confidence,” he said. “I’ve workedclosely with Mr. Boughton over the years and have learned a lot.”I have three priorities,” he added. “Academics. We’re going to improveacademics. Discipline. If we’re going to do something about it we need theboard to back us. And all employees are going to be held accountable. Iappreciate your support.”But board members weren’t finished commenting about the selection.

“I want to say that I am not in favor of how this was done,” LeBlanc said.

“I haven’t seen anything on Mr. Landry. Not even a resume. I have beenknowing Mr. Landry all this time and I don’t know what his qualificationsare to be superintendent in St. James Parish.”

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