Livingston School Board members to take action on Superintendent Murphy’s contract

Many teachers and school leaders tell UWK they believe Murphy has lost the confidence in the board, many teachers and the community.

LIVINGSTON – The contract for the superintendent of Livingston Parish Public Schools is back up for discussion.

Despite announcing his plans to retire last week, UWK has learned that the school board plans to discuss and take action on Joe Murphy’s contract at Thursday’s board meeting.

Contract debate

Multiple sources confirm to UWK that the various board members have been meeting with principals, teachers and other educators behind the scenes for the past few weeks. Those talks have centered around the direction of LPPS. UWK has learned that many within the district have signaled their desire for the board to terminate Murphy’s contract early and begin the search for a new superintendent.

Murphy’s retirement announcement on the first day of the 2023-2024 school year coincided with the board’s assessment of his job performance and contract renewal. His contract is set to expire in June 2024.

It also fell on the heels of restructuring among central office staff in Livingston. These shakeups include changes in the overall organizational flow of the Livingston Parish School District. Assistant Superintendents of Schools, Jody Purvis and Bruce Chaffin, are amongst the two names who were part of the district realignment, which was seen by many as a final power grab by Murphy, sources say.

Leadership backlash

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, some adding the public did not trust 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 in 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.”

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.”

Future of LPPS

If the board moves forward with terminating Murphy’s contract, it would mean a new superintendent for the district.

Murphy started with LPPS in 1992 and has led the district since 2019. 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.

Still, many educators say they believe the search should be as broad as possible. Many feel that outside leadership could be a shot in the arm for the district.

This is a developing story. Check back often for new information.

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