Coburn resigns from SJBP schools

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 11, 2008


Staff Reporter

RESERVE – Former St. John the Baptist Parish Schools Superintendent Michael Coburn on Monday resigned from the parish school system after 27 years of service, bringing to an abrupt close a debate within the parish school board over how he would finish his career after his contract as superintendent was not renewed last summer.

Coburn, who served as superintendent for seven years, was legally entitled to return to his last tenured position in the school system – a teaching position – and had been in discussions with some school board members about another arrangement in which he would use his accumulated sick days to remain on leave for another year. At 54, he stood one year from retiring with maximum benefits given his time served.

It was not immediately clear what led to Coburn’s decision and his resignation came as some school board members were advocating “a more honorable alternative” for his final year of service.  

At the last regular school board meeting on June 19, Board Member Russ Wise formally proposed reactivating the position of chief administrative officer – a position that hasn’t been filled since 1993 – to allow Coburn to remain on leave for a year and “go into retirement with his head high.”

But Wise’s proposal immediately drew opposition from a few board members who balked at the notion of granting Coburn a “paid vacation.” All related discussions were eventually tabled.

Coburn did not respond to a message left for him seeking comment.  

School Board President Gerald Keller on Tuesday described Coburn’s resignation as “surprising” and suggested that Coburn’s situation would have been addressed at an upcoming school board meeting.

“I have no clue what he’s going to do now,” Keller said. “He’s gone and we wish him the best of luck.”

Felix Boughton, the executive director of business and finance for St. John Parish schools, said in an email message that the board was prohibited from commenting due to confidentiality laws.

In April, the School Board bought out the remainder of Coburn’s contract as Superintendent Courtney Millet assumed the position.

Before becoming superintendent, Coburn served in many capacities within the school system. He began his career in 1981 as a coach and teacher at East St. John High School before becoming athletic director and then principal. After a two-year stint in the mid-1990s with the school board, he took over as principal of Garyville/Mt. Airy Math and Science Magnet School.