Board members react to Rodrigue retirement - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Board members react to Rodrigue retirement

Cameron School Board Superintendent Stephanie Rodrigue. (Source: Theresa Schmidt/KPLC) Cameron School Board Superintendent Stephanie Rodrigue. (Source: Theresa Schmidt/KPLC)
Cameron Parish School Superintendent Stephanie Rodrigue says she's retiring.  That's after nearly two years of controversy and disagreement with some school board members over a number of issues. Two board members admit they are taken aback but looking forward."We were just about to adjourn the meeting and she made the announcement that she was going to go ahead and retire effective October 7," said Board Member Tracy Carter, about what happened at their meeting Monday night. "She was giving her 90 days notice."

Rodrigue has been under fire since 2013 when people found out she had been issued a $50,000 payment she says she was due when she deferred pay raises. Two school board members who question that and other actions are Carter and Board Vice President, Karen Nunez.

"All we want is the truth, what has happened," said Nunez about what's gone on since they began increased scrutiny.

They admit being caught off guard by Rodrigue's announcement to retire. But they say various issues dealing with contracts, deferred payments and pay remain unresolved.

"This doesn't end the discussion. This doesn't end the questions," said Carter. 

In February, the Louisiana Attorney General's Office said a State Police investigation revealed no criminal intent by Rodrigue. Still the two school board members say questions remain that demand answers.

"There's a lot of things I can't discuss because it's personnel issues, but it's been just a constant fight of just trying to get some answers. And that's been my whole problem. I can't get answers to basic questions," said Carter. 

As they look toward the future, Carter and Nunez want policies to nail down procedures such as approval of a superintendent's contract. 

"We're working on a policy that will have every person initial a page on the contract of the new superintendent or a new contract saying that they have been able to see that contract, negotiate that contract and agree on the contract," said Nunez.

They say the situation, which Nunez calls a trial by fire, has made it difficult to fulfill their responsibilities as board members.

"I think we've been left out of the loop when it comes to things that we are accountable for to our constituents. We need a new superintendent," said Nunez.

Rodrigue's salary grew from $83,000 in 2007 to $138,000 at last check even though the district has only about 1200 students.

That's another issue likely to be a topic of discussion as the search begins for a new superintendent.

We reached out to Rodrigue and she told us she's retiring now because in her words, "It's just time." Rodrigue says her retirement will be effective in October if the school board does not get a replacement before then. Following this story we'll provide a statement Rodrigue gave us about her years as in education.

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Here is a statement from Rodrigue concerning her retirement:

On my decision to retire, simply stated, it is just time.  I have been in education for 36 years and have been so very fortunate to spend so much time serving students.  I was appointed Superintendent in June of 2007 when Dr. Chance announced his retirement.  As I know you recall, that was between Hurricanes Rita and Ike which both destroyed Cameron Parish.  Since then, I have been proud to be involved in the rebuilding process which is almost complete with the exception of a few small projects and the rebuilding of Johnson Bayou which should be completed by Spring of 2015.  The school system is very fortunate to have unparalleled energy industry growth within the parish, affording our students the opportunity to stay and raise their families here while pursuing not just jobs, but high-wage careers.  Through the assistance of remarkable legal counsel, the properties of the school system will be cleaned to regulatory standards and monetary awards are making both academic and school site improvements possible, all of which are true investments in the future.  I am passionate about education and will continue to do volunteer work with the rodeo and livestock scholarship and competition programs.  Most importantly, I will have greater opportunities for my church work at Sacred Heart of Jesus in Creole.  Finally, the students of Cameron Parish are currently being served by one of the most remarkable supervisory and administrative teams in its history and will continue to grow and thrive under the supervision of extremely competent and caring teachers.   The timing is perfect!

Thank you for asking,

Stephanie Rodrigue
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