July 16, 2013 11:03:17 AM
Sarah Fowler - [email protected]
Columbus Municipal School District board member Currie Fisher has filed a grievance against her fellow board members.
Fisher read the grievance during Monday night's regular board meeting, voicing her concerns over the way she was removed as school board president. Fisher insisted that she did not mind no longer being the board president, but called the board's actions unethical and said it violated Mississippi code.
"At the June 20 meeting, special meeting number two, I was voted out of the office of president and I don't have a problem with that. However, no president was elected," she said.
Jason Spears, who had been the board's vice president, has been acting as board president since Fisher's removal from the position.
"This board legally does not have a president because I was voted out but no one was voted in as president," Fisher said. "A vice president can only assume the duties, not the title and not the functions permanently, of a president. I would just like to make that clear for the record."
Fisher then mentioned another policy naming the duties of the vice president.
"Vice president of the board of trustees must have the powers and duties of the president in the event of absences or disability of the president. The Columbus Municipal Board of Trustees have failed to follow this policy," she said.
Fisher was elevated from vice president to president when then-president Tommy Prude's term on the board expired on March 19.
During the next 15 minutes, Fisher mentioned half a dozen policies she claimed the board has "flagrantly abridged" including a matter involving temporary interim superintendent, Dr. Edna McGill.
"All warrants issued by the Columbus Municipal School District will require two signatures: That of the superintendent and the business manager. I understand at the June 25 meeting there was a motion to approve Mrs. McGill and some other person to sign the checks, but the superintendent must be bonded with a $100,000 surety bond before claiming the duties of the superintendent. That has not been followed."
McGill, Spears and board attorney David Dunn assured Fisher that McGill was in the process of being bonded.
Deputy Superintendent Craig Shannon and Federal Programs Director Anthony Brown have the authority to sign checks while McGill is waiting on the bond process to be finalized.
Until Monday, former Superintendent Dr. Martha Liddell and former business manager Kenneth Hughes' names appeared on checks for the district. The two are still considered employees of the district until they each have an official termination hearing. During Monday night's meeting, the board approved removal of Liddell's and Hughes' names from the checks.
Addressing the board and the audience, Fisher read the code of ethics board members are supposed to follow. She adamantly stated that the board was violating ethics policies.
There is a code of ethics that this board is supposed to follow. Whether I'm number one or number 10, it doesn't matter to me," Fisher said. "What makes the difference to me is the school children who we are supposed to be representing and the stakeholders who trust us with their judgment and their money. Three of these code of ethics state, well two, 'I should recognize that I should endeavor to make policy decisions only after full discussions at publicly-held board meetings. I must also render all decisions based on the available facts and my independent judgment and must refuse to surrender that judgment to any individual or individuals or special interest groups. I must encourage the free expression of opinion of all board members and seek systematic communication between the board, and students, staff and all elements of the society."
Fisher said she plans to file a complaint with the Mississippi Ethic's Commission and the Attorney General's Office.
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.