In a series of incidents that shocked communities Friday, Michael Comeau, a Catholic school principal who was the recipient of a distinguished award for educators, has resigned after he thought it was a good idea to get belligerently drunk, hit up the strip club, then refuse to pay … all while on a school field trip, the Advocate reports.
Comeau, 47, was one of several chaperones who traveled from Holy Family School in Port Allen, La., to Washington, D.C., to explore the nation’s capital, when he decided to do some secret exploration of his own. He reportedly went to a strip club just a short walk from the White House, but his plans were foiled when he got disorderly, refusing to pay his tab at Archibald’s Gentlemen’s Club. According to the arrest report obtained by the Advocate, officers received a 2:20 a.m. complaint of “an intoxicated man refusing to pay his bill.” They discovered Comeau standing in the road and “refusing to move” despite repeated requests to do so. “Comeau was arrested on counts of public intoxication and possession of an open container of alcohol,” the news site reports.
According to Dan Borne, spokesman for the Diocese of Baton Rouge, students were in their hotel rooms and safely with other chaperones when Comeau was on the little excursion that led to his arrest. At least they weren’t waiting outside on the school bus.
Comeau’s fall from grace comes as a particular shock as he was previously named one of 20 outstanding teachers honored by USA Today and received the Milken Educator Award, including a $25,000 stipend, according to the Advocate. The Milken award was given to Comeau for his work in closing the achievement gap for academically struggling students.
Perhaps a warning sign of something being off could be found in one of Comeau’s previous school scandals. According to the Advocate, while Comeau worked at Greenbrier Elementary, he allegedly mishandled $120,000 in funds raised to assist in Hurricane Katrina recovery. Comeau resigned in 2006 after an auditor determined the donated money had ended up being spent primarily in other areas. (There’s been no word on whether he cashed the money into all single dollar bills.) The Advocate notes, “It is unclear whether the Diocese knew of Comeau’s history at Greenbrier when he was hired.”
Still, the Diocese has been accused of knowingly hiring people who’ve done much worse.
According to an official statement from the Diocese, WAFB-TV reports, Comeau gave a letter of resignation, bringing an end to his five-year service as principal:
The Diocese of Baton Rouge confirmed today that Michael Comeau, principal at Holy Family School in Port Allen, was arrested on May 30 while on a school sponsored trip to Washington, DC. The incident occurred when the students on the trip were in their hotel rooms for the evening under the supervision of other chaperones. Mr. Comeau had been principal of Holy Family School for five years and prior to that time had served in public education in the surrounding area. Mr. Comeau has submitted his resignation as principal and an interim principal will be appointed.
The Advocate reports that Comeau also resigned as a reserve officer at the Brusly Police Department. Comeau had spent the past six months on the force.
Correction: Sept. 15, 2019, 6:45 p.m. ET: This story has been edited to remove unattributed text and add fuller sourcing.