In a letter to board members obtained by Teche News, Deidre Ledbetter, president of the SMILE board of directors, cited a “lack of leadership” and “unprofessional behavior” on the part of Wiltz, a former educator who has served as SMILE’s executive director for over half a dozen years.
Among grievances alluded to but not specified in the letter are references to attending a conference without Ledbetter’s permission, putting items on the board’s agenda when told not to, and skipping out on work.
Ledbetter’s action was approved by the board Nov. 12, and ratified by the Head Start Policy Council, a federal funding requirement, three days later.
Wiltz, who previously served SMILE in other capacities, tells Teche News that he is a victim of a vendetta by Ledbetter and certain board members from Iberia Parish for actions he took as executive director.
“Her husband did some wiring at the Headstart center in Jeanerette that we found to be substandard, and I just never used him again,” Wiltz said.
“This is payback.”
Wiltz said he also demoted an assistant who was from New Iberia and incurred the wrath of those board members from Iberia Parish.
Wiltz, who is undergoing chemotherapy, said Ledbetter’s action violates the Family Medical Leave Act and various other strict due-process requirements associated with SMILE’s funding sources.
Ledbetter did not respond to requests for comments on this matter.
Wiltz was a member of the SMILE board of directors for 12 years, serving as its president for five. He also served as the agency’s personnel director before becoming executive director.