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Columbus Municipal Schools – Wrapup – 1042

CMSD Names McGill “Temporary Interim” Superintendent

Trustees Squabble Over Private Communications

Fisher Stripped Of Presidency
BY BRIAN JONES
Staff Writer
brian.jones@test.columbuspacket.com/packet

Brian Jones The Packet Jason Spears, left, and Temporary Interim Superintendent Edna Mcgill at Wednesday's special meeting

Brian Jones The Packet Jason Spears, left, and Temporary Interim Superintendent Edna Mcgill at Wednesday’s special meeting

The Columbus Municipal School Board held an unprecedented two consecutive special meetings Thursday afternoon and evening, the first to designate a temporary interim superintendent, and the second, to strip President Currie Fisher of her office.
Several of ousted Superintendent Martha Liddell’s supporters, including Columbus Mayor Robert Smith, Councilman Kamal Karriem, and pastors Steve Jamison and Darren Leach were in the audience.  [Although Mr. Karriem did not arrive until about 7:30 p.m. – Brian Jones]

First meeting: McGill named temporary interim superintendent
During the first meeting, Edna McGill was named temporary interim superintendent and an attorney was hired to help Dunn with issues surrounding Liddell’s termination.
The first meeting began at 5:30 p.m. and was marred from its first moments by intra-board tensions; Fisher seemed determined to fight the majority of the board’s decisions, and, by the end, the trustees were accusing one another of secretive, under-the-table dealings.
The first item of business was to delegate Liddell’s responsibilities until an interim superintendent could be hired.  Assistant Superintendent Anthony Brown and Deputy Superintendent Craig Shannon made a recommendation that they split Liddell’s responsibilities between them.  They both stated that neither had any interest in the superintendent’s position.
“Neither nor Anthony Brown or Craig Shannon has any desire to serve under any capacity other than the ones we currently serve in,” Brown said, reading a prepared statement to the board.  “We will not be applicants for either interim or the superintendent position, and this is not an attempt to advocate for that position.
“Tuesday morning we received a phone call from the Mississippi Department of Education’s financial office,” Brown said.  “They were very adamant that they speak to the person in charge.  They asked specifically by name for our interim business manager, Ms. Felicia Elmore.  They were adamant with the secretarial staff to know who was the person in charge.  Mr. Shannon and I contacted Mr. Dunn and Ms. Fisher about an answer.  Mr. Dunn advised us that we already have a board-approved organizational chart.  As long as the responsibility that they were interested in fell under one of us, then we were authorized to go ahead and provide that information.
“We looked at the chart and we realized that we have people in this building who report only to the superintendent, and that position is vacant,” Brown said.  “We are proposing that until an interim is named that we reassign all the responsibilities that are oversight-related be reassigned to us until an interim is named.”
“We have had interest on a temporary basis from several candidates in fulfilling the responsibilities that are vacant following Dr. Liddell’s departure,” Spears said.  “I would say instead of splitting the duties and setting a new precedent, that we look to that candidate for fulfilling the position until we can receive the résumés and go through those and not interfere in your ongoing responsibilities.”
“This is not the first time that this has occurred,” Fisher said.  “We have a history of having two assistant superintendents.  We used to have [Dennis Dupree and David Sullivan].  [The current setup, with an assistant superintendent and a deputy superintendent, originated with Dr. Del Phillips.  As far as I am aware the board had always had two assistant superintendents previously. – Brian Jones]  It has been done before, and it worked.  The reason that Mr. Brown just gave is not that he doesn’t want the responsibilities, it is because neither of them want the position in a long-term or interim position.  I think it’s admirable that they would take it on until we can name an interim.  The purpose is so that the district can function and we can make sure nothing falls through the cracks because of not knowing.”
“My only objection to that is that anyone who fills this void while we’re vetting candidates will only be in that position temporarily,” Spears said.  “Instead of creating additional responsibilities for individuals who are already swamped with their own position, we should look at the candidate that we’ve already looked at has already had great success in our own system.”
“I’m not aware of who this candidate is,” said Angela Verdell.
“Edna McGill,” Spears said.  “She submitted résumés for that position on a temporary basis.”  [Ms. McGill works part-time for the district as public information officer and professional development coordinator.  She is retired from the Lowndes County School District, where she was assistant superintendent for curriculum.  She had previously been principal at Cook Elementary from 1999-2006. – Brian Jones] “I would think that given the job description of Mr. Brown and Mr. Shannon, they have the knowledge to do the work and it would be advantageous to just roll the responsibilities between the two of them,” Verdell said.
“Let me clarify for the record that I did not submit the résumés that were sent to everyone via email because that was not what I was authorized to do,” Fisher said.  “I was authorized to seek out MSBA screening of candidates to fill the temporary position of superintendent.”  [This is a little disingenuous.  At the end of the special meeting last week, Mr. Lautzenhiser specifically asked Ms. Fisher to send out the résumés to the board members as soon as she received them from the MSBA.  She stated at the time that she thought she would have results within 24 hours.  While the exact language of the motion may not have authorized her to send them out, that was very much the impression that I had when I walked away from the meeting.  I will add the caveat, however, that I was exhausted from the marathon run of board meetings and may have misunderstood. – Brian Jones] Verdell made a motion to accept Brown’s proposal to split responsibilities until an interim can be selected.  Fisher called twice for a second, and, when it became obvious she wouldn’t get one, announced she would pass the gavel to Spears and second it herself.
“Madame President, I looked that up today—” Board Attorney David Dunn said.
“Excuse me,” Fisher said, interrupting him.
“Could I just offer a suggestion?” he said, trying again.  “There is a policy that says you do not have to pass the gavel.  I found it today.  The board president may make motions, vote on motions and continue in control of the meeting.”
“Thank you very much,” Fisher said.  “How long has that been in effect?”
“It’s been there for quite some time,” Dunn said.  “The practice began some years ago.  But the policy allows you to—”
“Thank you,” Fisher repeated.  “How long has that been the case?”
“I have no idea,” Dunn said.
Fisher called for a vote, and the motion failed 3-2, with Glenn Lautzenhiser, Spears and Turner voting no.
Spears then made a motion that McGill be named superintendent “on a temporary basis, while we vet candidates for the position.”  Lautzenhiser seconded.
“Can we do this legally?” Turner asked.
“Yes,” Dunn said.  “This board is charged with the responsibility of filling different positions.  That position is vacant, and there is no problem whatsoever with filling that position with someone who is already in the district part-time or full-time.”
“Did we open that position up for other staff in the district?” Turner asked.
“No,” Dunn said.
“How should we have proceeded with that?” Verdell asked.  “Should we post the opening and let people submit for the assignment?”
“The procedure is up to the board,” Dunn said.  “In an emergency situation, with MDE demanding that someone be in charge, you have the authority to not post a notice.  You don’t have to open it up.  With a permanent position there would be other standards, but this is short-term.  We are talking about a temporary interim position.  I have not researched it, but I am comfortable that you have that authority.”
“Do we know that Ms. McGill does not want to be superintendent?” Verdell asked.
“My understanding is that it is temporary,” Spears said.
“I would think it would be in our best interest to confirm that she has no interest in the long-term position so there would be no conflict,” Verdell said.  “I’d ask that we table the motion until we can confirm that.”
Spears refused to withdraw his motion.

Brian Jones / The Packet Edna McGill, left and Deputy  Superintendent Craig Shannon, right, at Thursday's meeting.  McGill had been named  temporary interim superintendent minutes before.

Brian Jones / The Packet
Edna McGill, left and Deputy
Superintendent Craig Shannon, right, at Thursday’s meeting. McGill had been named
temporary interim superintendent minutes before.

“Is it legal for us to give her the position if she is interested in becoming long-term superintendent?” Turner asked.
“I do not believe that there is any law that says that someone that you might employ as a temporary interim could not apply for the position,” Dunn said.  “I may be wrong, but I thought Dr. Liddell was interim and then was hired as permanent.”  [She was. – Brian Jones] “I think the question was whether she was interested,” Fisher said.
“The question she asked was whether it was legal,” Dunn said.  “I don’t think it matters.”
“We should know if she is interested,” Fisher said.  “If we’re not going to give the responsibility to [Brown and Shannon] because they’re not interested, then I don’t think, all things being equal, we should give it to her, either.”
Spears read aloud the email from McGill.
“The email that you and every board member received expressed her interest in the position of interim superintendent,” Spears said.  “I am labeling it as a temporary position until we get all candidates from MSBA.”
“The question is whether she is interested in the long-term position,” Fisher insisted.
“Let me pull up the email and read it,” Spears said.  “She states, ‘Please find attached a letter requesting consideration for the interim superintendent for CMSD along with my résumé and references.  Thank you for your consideration.’”
“But the question still stands,” Fisher said.  “Do we know if she is interested in the long-term position.  [Brown and Shannon] open said that, and you said if they are not interested we should not invest the time in them”
“Then I will read you her actual letter, that was attached to that email,” Spears said.  “ ‘To whom it may concern: I am writing to let you know that I have an interest in serving as interim superintendent of the Columbus Municipal School District.  I have a long, productive, positive history with the district and would think that I could impact the district in a manner that will restore community confidence, respect and trust.  I retired as assistant superintendent of the Lowndes County School District, but would place my retirement on hold for the interim position—”
“Excuse me,” Fisher said, interrupting him.  “I appreciate your eloquent reading of the letter—”
“She is expressing right here that she would like to be the long-term interim superintendent, which answers your question,” Spears said.
“They said they would serve this district by taking on shared responsibilities of things Dr. Liddell had done,” Fisher said.  “That’s a commitment.”
“They also stated they did not want the position,” Spears said.  “We have a candidate who said she would—”
“Mr. Spears, you need to stick to correct nomenclature,” Fisher said.  “They did not say they did not want to.  They said they were not seeking—”
“Can we let them speak to this?” Turner asked.
“Mr. Brown has already spoken,” Shannon said.  “What he did say, what I heard and how I feel is that we are not seeking the interim position or the superintendent’s position.  We are committed to this district, as we have been for the past few years.  If there is anything the board wishes us to do for the children and to help this board move forward, we are more than willing to do whether it be one day, 10 days or 10 weeks.”
Spears’s motion passed 3-2, with Fisher and Verdell voting no.  McGill will serve as the temporary interim superintendent while the board reviews résumés submitted by the MSBA.

Rather than moving on with the agenda, Fisher insisted that the majority of it be tabled.
Shannon made a brief presentation about training costs for food service workers [about $11,500] and then, rather than calling for a vote, Fisher asked to table.
“Since we have made an interim superintendent, that person is now in authority and should be a part of this meeting,” Fisher said.  “Every board meeting must have a superintendent present.  Therefore I recommend that we table the rest of the agenda items until we can reschedule with the named superintendent attending.  I want to go on the record as saying that we are going to miss out on some things because of deadlines.  All of the financials have to be changed so that Ms. McGill be the signatory.  Can we table any item requiring her as interim superintendent?”
“Probably the best option is to recess until either later on tonight, or tomorrow or the next day,” Dunn said.  “Recess until Ms. McGill can make it here and come up to speed and cover those items.  Anything that does not require her participation can be taken up.  There are several things that can be taken up without her.”
“Ms. McGill made the application, she knew we were meeting tonight, she should be present,” Fisher said.
Several items, including personnel issues, salary scales and banking were tabled unanimously on a motion by Fisher and second by Turner.  [Ms. McGill arrived about 6:15 p.m., but the matters were not brought back up off the table, nor did she take her place at the board table. – Brian Jones]

Dunn asked that attorney Jim Keith of law firm Adams and Reese be hired to assist with Liddell’s appeal hearing, lawsuits and other matters.
Verdell questioned why another attorney was needed.
“How is this different from your role as attorney for the board?” Verdell asked.
“Dr. Liddell has not filed an appeal so far,” Dunn said.  “If she files one, and I’ve been told that she will, at that point the board will have to decide whether to hear her appeal yourself or to hire a hearing officer.  My recommendation – because a Supreme Court case recommends a hearing officer – I recommend that a hearing officer be employed to hear it.  That officer is like a judge.  They are a neutral party.  What I am saying is that right now, it is my belief that this board would greatly benefit from Mr. Keith’s services.  He has been a school board attorney longer than I have, and he represents many districts in this state.  It is very unusual for a school board to terminate a superintendent.  I have not handled one before, but he has handled one in the last month in south Mississippi.  I need his assistance because that way we are not reinventing the wheel.  He has done the research for it.  I need that assistant because I’m already dealing with another personnel matter [Ken Hughes] and multiple hours required because of this change.  I do not have the time to dedicate 100 percent of my practice to this business.”
“My concern would be that we are going to end up paying twice for legal counsel,” Verdell said.  “We do not even know what his hourly rates are.”
“You will not pay twice because we do not render the same service,” Dunn said.  “For example, there has got to be research done and briefs prepared.  I have research from cases I’ve done before, and I will not charge for resources I’ve charged for before.  Mr. Keith will work in more of a support role, and I will be boots on the ground and will handle the case.  There will be no duplicate billing.”
Dunn said Keith’s rate is $355 per hour.
“That’s pretty much the going rate for experts in the city of Jackson,” he stated.
Spears made a motion, seconded by Lautzenhiser, to hire Keith to assist Dunn.  It passed 3-2, with Fisher and Verdell voting no.

The board considered a request by Liddell to be reinstated as superintendent until her appeal hearing.  Fisher attempted to have the matter tabled.  Verdell seconded.
“We have just hired an attorney to aid Mr. Dunn,” Fisher said.  “He should be here as part of these deliberations.”
“I disagree,” Spears said.
Fisher’s motion failed 3-2, with Fisher and Verdell voting yes.

Dr Lidell

Dr Lidell

Before the board went into executive session, Verdell read a statement accusing other board members of not including her in all communications.
[I’m going to do my best to get all of the letter – which she read aloud – into this account.  I’m not sure I got it all down, because I was up taking pictures and away from my notebook, and the audio quality on my recording is not the best.  If I leave out anything, I apologize. – Brian Jones] “I have a statement of grievance,” Verdell said.  “It has come to my attention on several occasions, and most recently today, that the CMSD school board members have met and/or been in secret communication outside of formally noticed meetings regarding pending issues before the board.  Meanwhile, despite representations to the contrary, certain members, myself included, have been excluded from these communications.  In fact, most recently, it was represented to the board president that a majority of the board members desired to include certain items on an upcoming agenda.  This determination was clearly made outside a board meeting and in no wise reflects the input of the entire board.  Whether this was by design or oversight, these actions rise to the level of being unethical and violate the policies and procedures of this board as well as the open meetings laws of the state of Mississippi.”
Verdell asked that the board president direct all communications, aside from casual social encounters, cease and desist immediately; that board members desiring to informally poll members direct those inquiries to the board secretary, who then document contact with all board members.
“There have been several times that calls have been made or things have come before this board where I don’t have a clue,” Verdell said.  “I was not included.”
Verdell’s statement set off a firestorm of finger-pointing.
“I agree with her,” Turner said.  “I’ve had the same thing happen to me as well.  I have been excluded from emails and phone calls.”
“I, too, have been excluded from communications in the past regarding board matters,” Spears said.
[Ms. Turner has complained on numerous instances that she has not received information at all, or not in a timely manner.  Mr. Spears has made similar complaints in the past.  In this case, however, I believe Ms. Verdell is referring to Messrs. Lautzenhiser and Spears and Ms. Turner directing that Dr. Liddell’s firing be put on the agenda earlier this month. – Brian Jones] “It seems that everybody has been excluded, but emails show that one of the second-to-last communications from Mr. Dunn states that he has been directed by (Lautzenhiser, Spears and Turner) that Dr. Liddell appear in executive session with her attorney,” Fisher said.
“Since you’re making that accusation, I’d like to respond,” Dunn said.
Fisher ignored him.
“I’d like to make a call for orders of the day,” Spears said.
“That’s fine,” Fisher said.  “That is an option that any board member can use, and it basically states that we are to be civil and acknowledge each other.  However, that does not state we cannot air issues that are bordering on illegal.”
“I’d like to make a point of personal privilege,” Spears said.  “In respect to the communication that is being circulated, at no time was any member excluded.  There were members that had previously said they would not be in attendance at this particular meeting.  Therefore after first communicating to this board president, I communicated with the secretary [Lautzenhiser] and then other member who stated they would be at tonight’s meeting [Turner].  The consensus was that we needed to add to the agenda that were not put on by the president, of her own accord.”
“I still take you back to the email from Mr. Dunn,” Fisher said.  “It was sent to Dr. Liddell and stated that Lautzenhiser, Spears and Turner had directed him – yes, sir, it’s in writing – to direct Dr. Liddell to come to executive session to answer questions and that her attorney was welcome to appear.”
“It is the right of the majority of the board,” Spears said.
“I was not included in that,” Fisher said.  “As a matter of fact—”
“You were included,” Spears said.  “You refused repeatedly to add that to the agenda.  That’s why each board member said that needed to be a part of the board meeting.”
Dunn, who had been sitting quietly, spoke up.
“This is the second time that you have characterized things that I’ve done, and I would like to have the right to respond,” Dunn said.  “You are calling me down on this, and I have the right to respond if the majority of the board is willing to allow me.”
“Here is what we’re going to do,” Fisher said.
“I make a motion that we allow Mr. Dunn to speak,” Spears said.
“Your motion is out of order,” Fisher said.
“The floor is open, ma’am,” Spears said.
“You are out of order,” Fisher said.  “There is already a motion on the floor.” [Ms. Verdell’s motion to put her grievance in the minutes. – Brian Jones] Spears seconded Verdell’s motion, and it was approved unanimously.  Dunn was then given the floor to speak.
“I feel like I’ve been accused of colluding, meeting with three members of the board of trustees and nothing could be further from the truth,” Dunn said.  “Each board member has equal access to me under procedures that have been in place for a long time.  I speak most regularly with the board president, but I speak regularly with each and every member of this board, including Ms. Verdell.  I received a phone call from each of the three members of the board that you are talking about, and I was directed by each individually to do what I did.  When a majority of the board asks that something be added to the agenda, our policies and the Mississippi Code give them that right.  They have the right to add to the agenda whatever they want.”
“I wasn’t speaking about adding to the agenda,” Fisher said.  “I was referencing your email directing Dr. Liddell to appear in executive session to answer questions because you were directed by three CMSD trustees.  That’s the one I’m talking about.”
“Each individual asked me to do that, and I asked you because they asked me,” Dunn said.  “They asked individually, not together.  We had no meetings, no conferences.  They each asked me to ask you to add a personnel matter to the agenda and you refused to do it.”
“When did I refuse?” Fisher asked.
“You just didn’t do it,” Dunn said.  “I have an email saying that here are my recommendations, and you did not do it.”
“Are you referring to the communication you sent Father’s Day?” Fisher asked.  “It was Father’s Day, and I did not have access by choice to email.  It was Father’s Day.”
“I know, it was my Father’s Day, too,” Dunn responded, drawing some laughter from the audience.
“It was everyone’s Father’s Day, Mr. Dunn,” Fisher snapped.  “Let me do this.  Let me table this discussion because it is probably something that should go before the Ethics Commission because it is probably a breach of the Open Meetings Law.”
“I welcome it,” Dunn said.
No action was taken.

The board then went into executive session for about 45 minutes to discuss potential litigation and personnel issues.  When they emerged, Fisher announced that the board had voted 3-2 to inform Liddell that she was relieved of all duties and permanently barred from CMSD premises, with Fisher and Verdell casting the no votes.  Fisher also stated that she had delegated the responsibility for signing the letter to Liddell to Spears.

CMSD Board President Currie Fisher and Board Attorney David Dunn

Former CMSD Board President Currie Fisher and Board Attorney David Dunn

Second meeting: Fisher ousted
As soon as the first meeting was adjourned, Spears stood and stated that a second call meeting would begin in 15 minutes.  Fisher left, stating that she had a prior obligation.  Verdell originally stated that she would be leaving, also, because she had to drive to Jackson for training, but ended up staying anyway.
The meeting, which lasted about seven minutes, was called solely to remove Fisher from her post as president.
Verdell charged that the meeting had been planned without her being informed.
“I’m trying to understand how is that before a special meeting it was already pre-arranged to have another meeting,” Verdell said.  “I’m struggling to understand this.”
“Each individual board member has repeatedly attempted to get items listed on the agenda,” Spears said.  “Those items, which are in the best interest of the school district, have been denied.  Therefore on an individual basis each board member expressed they would like to have a special meeting to resolve the conflict that exists on this board.  You have stated numerous times – and I am glad you are here – you stated numerous times in multiple correspondences that you would not be attending tonight’s meeting.  Therefore upon the establishment of the majority of this board, the meeting was decided upon for this particular time.”
“I think I only sent one correspondence,” Verdell said.  “I reported that I had to be at a mandatory school board training, which I am required to do within the first six months of taking this position.  I don’t think that it’s to anybody’s surprise that I had to do that.  I said that I was available to meet this morning, but I guess the majority of the board decided they would meet this afternoon.  As I said earlier, I appreciate the consideration to be included regardless of how I choose to vote.  If we can’t do that, then I don’t see how we are going to be effective moving forward.  We are going to become very isolated where there is no democracy.  There is no democracy in having a fixed vote of three all the time.  I appreciate your explanation, but I do take exception to that.”
“I respect that very much,” Spears said.  “The (original meeting) was called tonight by Currie Fisher, and each member had the opportunity to say whether they would or would not be here.  Of all the board members, you are the only one who stated you could not make it tonight.  Did I summarize the facts correctly?”
“I think that your account is sufficient,” Verdell said.
Turner made the motion to remove Fisher, and was seconded by Lautzenhiser.  It passed 3-1, with Verdell voting no.  Spears, who had been board vice-president, moved up to president.
“What is the process for determining the vice-president?” Verdell asked.
“We will take that up at our next meeting,” Spears said.
The board typically rotates offices between its members.
[For more on this meeting, just keep reading. – Brian Jones]

 

CMSD Holds Quiet Meeting

Reduces Furloughs for Administrators

Eyes Goldmon as Financial Consultant
BY BRIAN JONES
Staff Writer
brian.jones@test.columbuspacket.com/packet

The Columbus Municipal School District Board of Trustees met at a special meeting 7:30 a.m. Tuesday to handle matters tabled at their Thursday special meeting.
Currie Fisher, who was removed as board president last week, did not attend.  However, Pastors Steve Jamison, Darren Leach and Tony Montgomery and NAACP President Lavonne Harris were in the audience, as well as several parents and teachers.
The meeting was the first for Temporary Interim Superintendent Edna McGill, who was elevated to the post last week.
In contrast to recent actions, the meeting Tuesday was orderly and non-controversial.  With the exception of a lengthy executive session, the trustees moved briskly through the agenda.

McGill and Assistant Superintendent Anthony Brown gave a brief budget status update.
“We spent the greater part of the last two weeks analyzing the expenditures,” Brown said.  “We feel confident that the projections you’ve been given recently will hold true.  We would like to have a financial officer come in and double check, but we are very confident that expenditures will be below what we projected.”
The board also authorized McGill to advertise for a public budget hearing.
“We must advertise twice a week before the hearing,” McGill said.  “We will move forward on that once we have a timeline in place (for budget meetings.)”

The board unanimously authorized administrator contracts be increased from 226 days to 236.
“In 2010-11, due to the budget crisis, districts across the state were asked to furlough employees,” McGill explained.  “We reduced our 236-day employees to 226 days.  We feel very comfortable in looking at the expenditures that we can increase them back to 236 with our proposed budget.”
“If we add these back it will not impact the millage?” Glenn Lautzenhiser asked.
“Based on our preliminary projections, that is correct,” McGill said.
The affected administrators are:
•    Jill Savely, Columbus High School: from $90,304 to $94,300.
•    Freda Dismukes, Columbus Middle School: $79,962 to $83,500.
•    Tim Wilcox, Cook Elementary: $73,450 to $76,700.
•    Patricia Overstreet, Franklin Academy: $70,290 to $73,400.
•    Nancy Bragg, Sale Elementary: $74,397 to $77,688.
•    Billie Smith, Fairview Elementary: $72,397 to $75,600.
•    Pamela Lenoir, Stokes-Beard Elementary: $72,397 to $75,600.
•    Craig Shannon, deputy superintendent: $115,490 to $120,600.
•    Anthony Brown, assistant superintendent: $89,479 to $93,350.
•    Beth Tippett, director of information: $75,365 to $78,700.

The board voted to return the Excellence for All grant money to the state department of education.  The money, which came to $50,000 per year for three years, was originally to be used to implement International Baccalaureate in the ninth and tenth grade at Columbus High School.  However, the state department decided that the money could not be spent for IB, but did give permission for it to be used for the Cambridge program, which is similar.  Due to the cost of implementing Cambridge, the district decided to return the money instead.
The request passed unanimously.

An attempt was made to fill the vacant vice-president’s position, but failed when both nominees declined.
Fisher, who previously was president, was ousted last week at a special meeting.  Spears, who was vice-president, assumed the duties of president and a new VP was to be voted on Tuesday.  Lautzenhiser nominated Aubra Turner, who declined the nomination.  Turner then nominated Verdell, who also declined.
Dunn said he would research whether or not the board could function without a VP.
The board typically rotates offices between its members so that everyone has the opportunity to serve in each position.  Spears is now president and Lautzenhiser secretary; with both Turner and Verdell refusing the post, and Fisher recently expelled from the presidency, it would seem that there is nobody to fill it.

The board briefly discussed hiring Frances Goldmon, former CFO for the Lowndes County School District, as a consultant for this year’s budget process.  The MSBA was asked last week to submit résumés for a potential interim CFO, but only one was sent in.  Goldmon apparently applied for the position independently.  Goldmon’s proposed hourly rate was not available, and so no action was taken.
[I’d be willing to bet another special meeting will be called soon to address this. – Brian Jones]

In other business:
•    The board approved a further $500 for development of an online policy manual.  The existing policies must be uploaded to the web, and the upload was not included in the original cost estimate.  The addition brings the cost up to $3,500.
•    The board authorized McGill to travel to the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents meeting later this year.
•    Verdell asked that policies for the student handbook be brought up at the July meeting to have them prepared by the time the school year begins.  “Just to be specific, the regular July meeting,” Spears said, drawing laughter from the audience.  “I didn’t mean that in jest, it’s just that we’ve had a lot of special meetings lately,” he explained.
•    Brown asked for approval to reinstate the carpentry program at McKellar Technology Center.  He said the district still has equipment from the last time the program was offered, so there will be little to no cost there, and also noted that the state department of education will reimburse half of the cost.
•    Former Superintendent Martha Liddell and former Business Manager Ken Hughes were removed as bank signatories.
•    The board held an hour-and-a-half-long executive session to discuss personnel issues and pending litigation.  Spears announced afterward that McGill would serve as temporary interim superintendent until the board could look at other candidates; he also announced George Dorrah of Kosciusko had been appointed hearing officer for Liddell’s due process hearing.

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