Early Education in Lafayette Parish
Little is known of the early years of public education in Lafayette Parish. According to Dr. H.L. Griffin in The Attakapas Country: "The constitution authorized Lafayette Parish to levy a tax for the support of the schools and to appoint a superintendent of education at a salary of $400 per year. Under this law, a one room school was opened in 1847. Five years later the office of parish superintendent was abolished." No mention is made of anyone serving as parish superintendent during that time.
The earliest record found was an article in the July 2, 1870 issue of the Advertiser which stated that the Board of School Directors for the Parish of Lafayette met on Wednesday, June 29, 1870 and was organized by choosing the following officers: L.E. Salles, President of the Board; Dr. T.B. Hopkins, Treasurer; and Mr. G. Broussard, Secretary. In the March 22, 1873 issue of the Advertiser, the proceedings of the March 17, 1873 meeting of the Board of Directors listed Mr. L.E. Salles as Secretary-Treasurer, and Mr. August Monnier as President. In the June 4, 1873 proceedings, Mr. Salles was referred to as the Director of Public School Systems. In March 1874, Mr. Salles rendered his resignation, Mr. B.A. Salles was elected Secretary-Treasurer to replace him, and Mr. Monnier was re-elected as President.
Although no mention was made in this meeting or any subsequent meetings in 1874 or 1875, according to commission signed by William G. Brown, President of the State Board of Education of Louisiana and kept in the Lafayette Parish School Board Office, August C. Melchior was appointed Director of Lafayette Parish Schools in March 1874. This is not recorded at the office of the Louisiana State Department of Education. According to their records, the only name of Director of Education listed in Lafayette Parish is L.E. Salles who served from April 20, 1875 to March 31, 1877. No information could be found for the years 1878 though 1881. In the proceedings of the December 1877 meeting of the Lafayette Board of Directors, T.B. Hopkins is listed as President of the Board and remained as President until 1879. No mention is made of a director during this time.
According to Dr. H.L. Griffin in The Attakapas Country, the office of parish superintendent was recreated in 1879 at a salry of $200 per year. No mention was made of an appointment. However, in the July 1, 1879 proceedings of the Board, H.M. Burleigh was secretary pro tem and Dr. Hopkins was President. No other records could be located until January 1882.