Supervisors voice concerns about NASD leadership

Published 12:02 am Tuesday, September 22, 2015

NATCHEZ — A member of the Adams County Board of Supervisors said Monday he believes the county government should disavow the current leadership at the Natchez-Adams School District.

“I think we need to go on record as saying that we are opposed to the current administration,” Supervisor David Carter said.

Carter said his concern was prompted by the decision rendered by a civil jury in the U.S. Southern District Court in Natchez last week holding Superintendent Frederick Hill and Assistant Superintendent Tanisha Smith personally liable for violations to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII protects against racial discrimination.

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The case, filed by former principal Cindy Idom, alleged she was forced to retire from the school district in part because she is white. The unanimous verdict — which came with an award of $371,000 in damages — was rendered on the fifth day of the trial, which included four days of testimony.

“Personally, I think (Hill), along with the assistant superintendent, should resign,” Carter said.

While the board did not officially take Carter’s stance, members did decide to seek an audience with the members of the school board it appoints.

Such meetings have in the past resulted in heated exchanges, and the board of supervisors has in the past asked one of its appointees — school board president Tim Blalock — to resign his position, which Blalock has not done.

Carter said the biggest concern the board of supervisors have is why the superintendent was given a three-year extension on his contract even though it wasn’t set to expire until February, when it would have automatically renewed for a one-year period. It was later revealed that the same week Hill had interviewed for another position in Flint, Mich.

“We need to find out what (the school board) plans to do,” Carter said.

Supervisor Mike Lazarus pointed out that other lawsuits against the district are on the way, filings he said have “way more grounds than this one.”

The lawsuits to which Lazarus alluded, filed by Shannon Doughty and Regina McCoy earlier this year, also allege wrongful termination.

While some of the components of the cases are the same as Idom’s, including that school accountability scores were improperly used to pressure the plaintiffs to resign, the cases do not involve Title VII claims and have been filed in Adams County Circuit Court.

A tentative hearing date for either the Doughty or McCoy case has not yet been set.

Supervisors’ President Darryl Grennell said after the discussion he would contact the school board members for the meeting.