Livingston Parish Superintendent to retire at end of school year

Livingston Parish Superintendent Joe Murphy

LIVINGSTON – After 31 years with Livingston Parish Schools and six as superintendent, Joe Murphy announced Friday he will retire at the end of the current school year.

The announcement coincides with an ongoing spat between the Livingston Parish School Board members and Murphy. The board was in the middle of their assessment of Murphy ahead of his contract renewal.

His contract was set to expire in 2024. Murphy has been with Livingston schools for three decades. He was selected as superintendent in 2019 when he beat out Jody Purvis and Bruce Chaffin in two votes by the school board.

He has led the district through some of the most trying times – from the Covid-19 pandemic to hurricanes and even overcrowding. He also helped schools navigate rebuilding following the historic 2016 flood as a district administrator.

Still, Murphy has faced backlash among teachers and the community since the failure of a one-cent sales tax to fund teacher pay raises failed earlier this year. Many veteran educators and even school board members blamed Murphy’s leadership and handling of the sales tax for a big reason it failed.

Purvis and Chaffin are both believed to be frontrunners to become the parish’s next superintendent of schools. Several sources within the district tell UWK that Purvis may already have the votes to take the helm.

Both school leaders have been part of a district realignment in the past few weeks. The realignment was seen by many to be a final power grab by Murphy.

Many teachers and school leaders tell UWK that they feel Murphy stepping down will be a turning point for the district. They believe that Murphy has lost the confidence of the board, many teachers, and the community.

“This is a district that I love and have worked in for more than 20 years, but many of the problems we face in the classroom have only gotten worse under Joe’s leadership,” a Livingston Parish educator told UWK under the condition of anonymity. “He is a big reason the tax failed earlier this year, and he is a big reason morale is at an all-time low within the district.”

Joe Murphy

Another teacher with 10 years at LPPS says that after the school tax failure, the writing was on the wall for Murphy.

“I actually don’t have a problem with his leadership and think he has done a lot for our schools. But he has lost the confidence in the community, and that’s only hurting the students and teachers. We need to turn a corner and propel Livingston schools back to what we used to be known for – a great working environment for our teachers and a superior learning environment for our kids.”

Murphy started with LPPS in 1992. He has served the district as a teacher, principal, and coach and led the district’s instruction department as well as assistant superintendent. He has seen the parish swell to record capacity and currently leads more than 4,000 employees and 26,000 students.

Murphy’s contract expires on June 30, 2024.

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