Sanders still fighting for elected board

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 27, 2000

Adams&160;County resident Charles Sanders is running out of options.

Sanders has been fighting in court the long-standing method of appointing members to the Natchez-Adams School Board as opposed to electing them.

But so far, he has been losing the battle.

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In August 1999, the United Sates District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi ruled it was legal for Natchez and Adams County officials to appoint board members because of the district’s status as a special municipal separate school district.

Sanders appealed the ruling only to have the United State Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit agree with the federal district court’s decision.

So Sanders is now considering if he can appeal the case to an even higher court..

&uot;We have not made a final decision. We’re discussing it but you can rest assured, we are not going to sit still&uot; and do nothing,&160;Sanders said Monday.

Sanders and Natchez resident Robert &uot;Big Bob&uot; Minor filed the lawsuit in fall 1998, saying taxpayers are not fairly represented on the Natchez-Adams School Board.

The five-member board is appointed, with the Natchez Board of Aldermen making three appointments and the Adams County Board of Supervisors making two.

Because the school board can levy taxes, Sanders and Minor say members should be elected.

And since Sanders lives in the county and cannot vote in city elections like city residents, he has claimed he is denied equal representation.

Sanders also remains frustrated with the lack of action by the city and county boards on the issue.

Both have gone on record supporting an elected school board but Sanders he said the boards are being contradictory by fighting his case in court. &uot;They pass resolutions supporting an elected board and they (won’t) do it,&uot; he said.

Attempts by the legislature to convert all school board in the state to an elected system have failed.

At the least, Sanders said the city should relinquish its appointment power to the county because it represents everyone in Natchez-Adams&160;County. Supervisors should then appoint school board members by district.

Natchez Adams Superintendent Dr. Carl Davis said he believes the issue of elected vs. appointed school boards needs to be addressed through the Legislature.

For him, where school board members live or whether they are elected or appointed is not as important as finding qualified candidates.

&uot;What I would like is a good, sound board working for all our kids. said Davis, adding that he wants the best possible candidates selected.

Minor could not be reached for comment Monday.