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Former school psychologist sues St. James Parish Schools on allegations of fraud

8 months 1 week 5 days ago Tuesday, May 05 2020 May 5, 2020 May 05, 2020 5:45 AM May 05, 2020 in News
Source: The Advocate

ST. JAMES PARISH - A school psychologist who once worked for the St. James Parish School System has filed a lawsuit against the organization, claiming she was pressured to resign after refusing to falsify official documents.

According to The Advocate, Latasha Cubas filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in New Orleans on Friday.

In her documents, she claims she was forced to resign after she refused to alter her evaluations of children when school principals wanted them incorrectly labeled special education.

Cubas worked in the river parish school district for almost five years and claims that during her time with the St. James Parish School System, she saw officials routinely alter special education evaluations, falsify documents, and change student plans without parent permission.

Cubas says all of these actions led to discrimination against African American students.

Cubas claims that when she resisted and tried to alert her superiors to the district’s special education problems, she was labeled “a troublemaker and a roadblock.” 

Her lawsuit goes on to allege that she speaking up led to her being harrassed on various occasions between August and December of 2019.

She says the retaliation against her caused her so much distress that she felt forced to resign.

So, she's now seeking compensatory and punitive damages as well as attorney and court costs.

St. James School Superintendent Ed Cancienne is named as a defendant along with seven other school administrators.

Canienne said he has not seen a copy of the litigation and is unfamiliar with the case.

“I’m totally caught off guard,” Cancienne said on Monday. “I don’t know anything about this.”

The suit claims that the school system's alleged push to inappropriately put certain children into special education classes was a way of generating more state education funding, but also gave those students undeserved advantages on standardized tests. 

The suit insinuates that Cubas noticed African American students labeled special education were not receiving all the services they were entitled to and that St. James made it harder for smarter African American children to qualify for gifted services.

Though her lawsuit does not seek to help children who may have been wrongly labeled, an attorney speaking on her behalf said it's likely Cubas will file additional litigation to help those children.

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