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SP School Board

SP superintendent, principal field questions from trustees

By Rupert Howell

South Panola Schools Superintendent Dr. Keith Shaffer explained to school district trustees his method for recent administrative hirings and SPHS principal Dr. Gearl Loden explained that Mississippi statutes were the reason cap and gowned seniors were prohibited from wearing other than school collars and tassels during commencement  ceremonies.

At Tuesday evening’s school board meeting, Trustee Jerry Cooley asked Principal Loden why a group of male graduates was not allowed to wear their fraternal colors. Loden told him it was unlawful.

Loden explained that South Panola sanctions two stoles, white for National Honor Society and gold for everyone, and approximately five different colored chords representing different school-sponsored honor societies to be worn by graduates with caps and gowns during awards day and graduation.

It would have been unlawful for the young men to have worn stoles representing a non-school fraternity, according to Loden, who cited Mississippi Code 37-11-39.

Superintendent Shaffer later said the school district cannot recognize organizations that are not school related.

A further look at Mississippi Code indicates that the school board of trustees “shall prohibit” fraternities, sororities or secret societies in all high schools under their jurisdiction, suspending or expelling pupils who are members and who solicit and encourage others to join.

Shaffer was asked by Trustee Sandra Darby why there was so much out-of-district hiring for administrative slots recently filled. Shaffer explained that he interviewed “eight or nine” district staff members who were certified to fill the positions and further explained that proper licenses “get you a seat in front of me. (Work) History and attitude get you the job.”

As superintendent, Shaffer’s duties include recommending administrative staff. Principals recommend staff members to be hired at their particular school to the superintendent who then has the authority to recommend those names  to the board for final approval.

Shaffer recently recommended hiring two principals and a personnel director, and moved assistant principals from one school to another. The personnel director and one principal were hired “out of district” although one lives in and is a product of South Panola.

Another principal was promoted from within the district and two assistant principals were moved laterally in the district to gain experience to prepare them for later advancement, Shaffer explained.

New Batesville Junior High principal Leslie Busby and Pope School principal Susan Vance continue to interview applicants for vacant assistant principal slots. Pope School assistant principal Cedric Graham will work with Busby at the junior high next school year along with a yet to be named assistant principal at that school.

School board members met in executive session prior to the regular meeting where they upheld their policy concerning a student who was suspended for fighting at the high school.