NP board refuses to release students to another district 8/1/2014

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 1, 2014

NP board refuses to release students to another district

By Rupert Howell 

North Panola School trustees hired Mississippi School Board Association attorney Jim Keith as their interim attorney Monday night. Trustees also denied approval to release four students to attend Senatobia School District during the regular monthly meeting.

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Keith serves a lead counsel with the Mississippi School Boards Association and is partner in the Adams and Reese LLP firm in Ridgeland.

Prior to the board’s denial to release students to the Senatobia District, parent Charles Sanders asked for his son to be released to Senatobia.

“If we open the door, it’s going to be a floodgate,” Trustee Trosiki Pettis told those attending Monday’s meeting, adding, “I believe any child that lives here should be educated here unless handicaped.”

“I don’t particularly agree with it (approving release),” trustee Verna Lasha Hunter noted before asking the question if trustees wanted to force students to be there that didn’t want to be.

Attorney Keith said the issue comes up all over the state and recommended the board not release students just because parents request it.

“It’s a legal nightmare. Follow your policy,” Keith stated.

Pettis and Hunter would make the motion and second that eventually failed unanimously with Sanders stating, “He (his son) can just stay at Gateway and make straight A’s.”

Sanders thanked the board before departing stating, “I like the prayer y’all said. (Board members pray and say the pledge prior to meetings.) Keep the good work up.”

During visitor comments, James Mohammed attempted to question items on the agenda and asked why a P16  Community Engagement Council had not been formed, a mandatory accountability standard.

Mohammed had raised a similar question during a previous meeting when the school was under conservatorship. At that time, Conservator Robert King told Mohammed that he recommended the council not be established until a new superintendent was named.

Newly appointed superintendent Cedric Richardson in his first regular monthly meeting since his employment date of July 1 informed the board and Mohammed that he was involved with establishing a P16 Council.

Mohammed told trustees that according to guidelines the P16 Council, “Should have been done before you hired a superintendent.”

Community engagement councils are intended to assist with building strong, healthy communities to create quality public education.

Mohammed, who was following the agenda during the meeting but did not have access to the information packets trustees have prior to meetings, also stated during the comment section of the meeting, “I don’t know anything about what your spending my (tax) money on.”

Trustees also approved a tax resolution which will ask for maximum millage to fund school operations and be presented to Panola County Supervisors.