Superintendent hearing Tuesday

Published 12:02 am Friday, April 1, 2011

NATCHEZ — Witnesses have been summoned and evidence collected for a Tuesday hearing to determine if Anthony Morris will keep his job as superintendent of the Natchez-Adams School District.

Morris said Thursday a determination as to whether the hearing will be public has not been made.

Morris has until Tuesday to decide if the hearing will be public, Natchez-Adams School Board Attorney Bruce Kuehnle said.

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The Natchez-Adams School Board voted at its Jan. 20 meeting not to renew Morris’ contract, which expires June 30 of this year.

The decision came from a motion made by school board member Dr. Benny Wright with the support of Thelma Newsome, Harold Barnett and David Troutman. Board member Dale Steckler voted against the non-renewal.

Kuehnle said Morris has the right, like any licensed employee of the state, to request a hearing urging reconsideration of the termination of his contract.

“The district will present its basis for (the board’s) preliminary decision first, and once the evidence is in, (Morris) will present his side of things,” Kuehnle said.

The hearing will continue at a preset date of Wednesday, April 13 if necessary.

Board members are not required to attend the hearing, but each member will receive a copy of the hearing transcript, which will be recorded by a court reporter.

After the hearing closes, Morris’s attorney will have an opportunity to make a final closing argument in front of the board, Kuehnle said. The board will meet in executive session to vote if they want to uphold the preliminary decision to release Morris, Kuehnle said.

The board has until 30 days after the hearing to make a decision, which will be publicly announced, Kuehnle said.

Kuehnle said Morris may testify on his own behalf. School board members may also be asked to testify for either party, Kuehnle said.

Morris has used his own funds to hire Attorney Preston Rideout of Greenwood to represent him in the hearing, Kuehnle said.

The board appointed at its January meeting to hire Jackson Attorney Jim Keith to represent the school district’s case.

The board voted at its February meeting to hire Jackson Attorney Nathaniel Armistad as the hearing officer.

The hearing officer will preside over the hearing and may rule on objections, Kuehnle said.

If the board upholds its decision to let Morris’ contract expire, Morris has the right to appeal the decision in chancery court.

In the event of an appeal to the court, a chancery court judge would rule on the case based on hearing transcripts, and the judge’s decision would determine whether Morris keeps his job.