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March hearing now set for superintendent

NATCHEZ — Anthony Morris and his lawyer will argue why he deserves to keep his job as superintendent of the Natchez-Adams School District at a hearing next month.

Morris requested the hearing, to which he is entitled, board attorney Bruce Kuehnle said.

The school board approved at Thursday’s regular meeting setting the hearing date to March 21.

The Natchez-Adams School Board voted 4-1 at its Jan. 20 meeting not to renew Superintendent Anthony Morris’ contract.

The contract expires June 30 of this year.

“The board has made a preliminary decision, and (Morris) is allowed to demonstrate to the board (the decision) is erroneous and convince board to change it,” Kuehnle has said.

It is Morris’s decision whether he wants the hearing to be public or not, a choice he will not have to declare until the day of the hearing, Kuehnle said.

The board unanimously appointed a Jackson attorney, Nathaniel Armistad, as the hearing officer at Thursday’s meeting.

At the Jan. 20 meeting, the board agreed to appoint Jim Keith, a Jackson lawyer who specializes in education, as its attorney to represent the school district’s case.

If the hearing runs longer than one day, it will be continued March 22 and 25.

Morris did not make any mention of the board’s decision not to renew his contract at Thursday’s meeting, and school business went on as usual.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, principals of school improvement schools delivered reports to the board.

Natchez High School Principal Cleveland Moore, Robert Lewis Middle School Principal Sekufele Lewanika and Morgantown Elementary Principal Fred Marsalis spoke about the schools’ response to school improvement reports and independent reports implemented by the Mississippi Department of Education. The evaluations were distributed at the board January meeting.

Natchez High

Moore said he has encouraged teachers to teach to higher expectations than what is required of them on the state tests.

He said in the past students who made good grades were still failing tests, so raising the bar in the classroom should boost test scores.

To improve discipline, the administration has changed the way it evaluates teachers’ ability to discipline their class.

He said in the past, administrators evaluated teachers via in-class observation.

Since the presence of an administrator might affect how a teacher acts, the system for evaluating teachers has changed.

The number of discipline referrals to principals will now be noted in teacher evaluations to help judge how they handle problems in the classroom on their own.

Robert Lewis

Lewanika said Robert Lewis has also made changes based on the reports.

In response to the observation that there was not enough hallway supervision, two administrators will be on duty in the hallways at all times, Lewanika said.

The principal and assistant principals are devising a schedule to make sure they are more visible to students throughout the school day, he said.

Lewanika said teachers have been encouraged to raise expectations of their students and increase the depth of knowledge of their lessons.

Morgantown

Marsalis said he is working with the middle school to make lesson plans more vertically aligned.

Morgantown is also using in-class tutors to supplement instruction where it is needed in math and language arts.

Marsalis said although it is difficult to implement during the school year, his administration has been researching how to implement a schedule that includes less class periods to facilitate less hallway shuffle.

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