Parish faces search for school head

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 8, 1999

VIDALIA, La.– After voting 5-4 Tuesday not to offer Superintendent James Lee a new contract, the Concordia Parish School Board now faces the task of finding a new leader for the district.

Board President Mike Grantham said he is confident the group can find a new superintendent by June 30, when Lee’s current four-year contract expires.

&uot;We’re trying to think positive about this thing, anyway,&uot;&160;Grantham said Wednesday.

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As soon as possible, the board will begin going through the same steps it would take to fill any position advertising the opening, screening applicants and conducting interviews.

In the off chance they cannot fill the position by that time, the board can appoint an interim superintendent until a permanent replacement can be found.

Still, Grantham quickly noted that no names of potential interim replacements are being &uot;batted around&uot; at this time.

But Lee believes that with the district already looking at changes in such areas as curriculum, budgeting and personnel for the 1999-2000 school year, the board better act fast.

&uot;They need to get busy doing something,&uot;&160;Lee said. &uot;The person they choose needs to be in on this planning process.&uot;

Meanwhile, Lee said he will fire off a letter to school board members insisting that they put in writing the reasons they chose not to offer him a new contract.

The board will send Lee a list of their reasons, Grantham said, but he would not say exactly when he expects that list to be sent.

Until it is sent, board members who voted against offering a Lee contract have refused to give the reasons for their decision.

&uot;We at least need to give Mr. Lee the courtesy&uot; of being the first to see those reasons, said Martha Rabb.

Rabb, Grantham, Ricky Raven, Darrell &uot;Bubba&uot;&160;Crofford and Donald Joseph voted not to offer a contract. Eddie Coleman, Johnnie Brown, Mary Campbell and Ernest Lynn White voted to offer a contract.

On Feb. 2, the board voted not to renew Lee’s contract as it is now written but instead to negotiate a new contract with Lee, who has been superintendent since January 1992.

That came on the heels of several months of persistent rumors that the board, including five new members elected last fall, would vote to terminate Lee.

Still, the superintendent said in early February that he was confident he would remain in his post.

On Wednesday, Lee said the board has never told him what was lacking in his job performance and never invited him to participate in any negotiations.

&uot;I was taken aback&uot; with the board’s actions on Tuesday, Lee said. &uot;I&160;was not expecting that to happen.&uot;

Current and former school board members and former board candidates have been silent about the board’s action regarding Lee’s contract.

In addition, neither Wilma McKeever, president of the Concordia Federation of Teachers, nor Melvera Bell Wilson, president of the Concordia Association of Educators, returned calls Wednesday.