June 12, 2013 10:39:56 AM
After meeting for almost four hours in executive session, the Columbus Municipal School Board took no action on a personnel matter involving Superintendent Dr. Martha Liddell.
Liddell's attorney, Austin Vollor of Starkville, was present at the Tuesday night meeting as well as a crowd of approximately 40 spectators, many of whom attended in a show of support for the embattled superintendent.
An email sent out Tuesday afternoon by CMSD Public Relations Officer Michael Jackson clarified the meeting was to address a personnel matter, not job performance. Tuesday night's special meeting was the second special meeting held in less than a week to discuss the superintendent.
Liddell and her attorney were questioned by the board as well as assistant superintendent Craig Shannon and Aramark food service worker Sandra Pegues. Pegues was involved in a incident in December when Liddell used CMSD funds and school personnel for a private Christmas party for her friends, family and business associates held at the Trotter Center. The party cost the district $447.51.
As the meeting dragged on, the crowd dwindled with many grumbling as they left. After school board president Currie Fisher emerged from the meeting at 9:15 p.m. and announced no action was taken, the remaining supporters gathered around Liddell in the hallway and congratulated her with hugs.
The school board will hold their regularly scheduled meeting Monday night. A copy of the agenda posted on the CMSD website does not currently list any personnel matters to be discussed.
Over the past several weeks, The Dispatch has reported on numerous issues related to Liddell's job performance, including extensive travel that resulted in her absence from the district for roughly a third of the school year, the Christmas party that was the subject of Tuesday night's meeting, her continued active role in a grant-writing company despite a CMSD policy prohibiting the superintendent from performing outside work and a delay in Project 2020, a dropout prevention program slated to begin June 1 but has not acquired the needed funding and has not been approved by the Mississippi Department of Education
Liddell was appointed interim superintendent in May 2011 when her predecessor Dr. Del Phillips resigned. She was named superintendent in June 2012.
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.
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