Teachers plan to sue East Feliciana Schools over bonuses

EAST FELICIANA PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Some teachers who were denied bonuses in East Feliciana Parish are planning legal action against the school board, after members voted down a measure that would have awarded them the payout they were promised last year.

Former East Feliciana school teacher James O'Donnell is no longer with the school system but he said he still feels very much a part of it.

"I'll still go to the Saturday market, and I'm going to Houston next month to see the kids at the battle of the bands," O'Donnell said.

O'Donnell is one of more than a dozen teachers who left the school district, but not before having a big impact on the students. It was significant enough to be awarded up to $2,000 for translating the improvement onto paper in the form of test scores.

Master teacher Maya Bennett helped those teachers reach their goals.

"I worked diligently with data and really closely with teachers to understand the deficiencies in instruction and student learning," Bennett said.

Bennett, O'Donell and several other teachers told 9News they were promised bonuses regardless of whether they stayed employed at the school district.

"In the spring they spoke to us about how they were broken down and at that point we asked for clarification if we would get them if we left the district. They said they would," O'Donnell said.

But the new school year came with a new superintendent, Dr. Henderson Lewis, who recommended the school board implement a new policy that would not allow teachers who left the school district last year to cash in on their bonuses.

Some of the teachers said they are hiring an attorney to represent them. They said it's not a legal battle over money, rather pure principal.

"It's unfortunate because at the end of the day our interest is children and I feel like in all of this if the decisions aren't made with accuracy outside of the court system then ultimately the children will be the losers in this case," Bennett said.

Superintendent Dr. Henderson Lewis did not return calls made by 9News.

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