School Board hires attorneys to defend ex-principal

Deidre Cruse, Governmental Reporter

The Iberville Parish School Board voted 11-1 Monday night to pay two Baton Rouge attorneys a blended rate of $195 an hour to defend against a federal lawsuit filed Maria S. Delouise, the former East Iberville School principal who alleges racial discrimination in her dismissal.

Delouise filed suit in August in U. S. District Court against the board, as well as Superintendent P. Edward Cancienne, Board President Melvin Lodge and former St. Gabriel Mayor George L. Grace Sr., individually and in their official capacities. She charged she was demoted in March 2010 to make way for a black principal at the Eastside elementary and high school.

The board voted the $195-an-hour rate for attorneys Michael R. Fontham and Ston Pigman to represent the board, Cancienne and Lodge.

Board members Nancy T. Broussard of St. Gabriel and Michael “Chief” Barbee made the motion.

Board Member Darlene Ourso of White Castle cast the sole no vote. Absent for the vote were members Michael J. Hebert Jr., Paul B. Distefano and Dorothy R. Sansoni, all of Plaquemine.

In other action, the board agreed to move next month's board meeting from Monday, January 9, to Tuesday, January 10.