Board frustrated with NASD

Published 12:04 am Tuesday, October 6, 2015

NATCHEZ — Adams County Supervisors effectively threw up their hands in frustration Monday over their appointees to the Natchez-Adams School Board.

Supervisors said they see no point in meeting with the two school board members supervisors appoint about the recent civil verdict against the district and its Superintendent Frederick Hill and Assistant Superintendent Tanish Smith.

“I have talked to three members of the school board, and to the best of what I have been told nothing is going to be done until they finish the appeals process,” Supervisor David Carter said. “To me, that is a disgrace.”

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A federal jury recently found the school district — as well as Hill and Smith in their personal capacities — liable for discrimination and the wrongful termination of former principal Cindy Idom.

Idom’s lawsuit alleged she was forced to resign in July 2013 after enduring a year of an extremely hostile work environment in which she drew extra scrutiny from the district’s administration because she is white. Hill and Smith are black.

After the initial verdict was issued, supervisors said they wanted to meet with the two school district trustees they appoint. Carter had apparently soured on the idea after his phone conversations with the board members.

“We can meet with them if we want to, but they have told me they aren’t going to go through a process until the appeals are done,” he said. “That can take years.

“To me, that sounds like you have a fox in the hen house, but you are going to let him stay there until you catch him eating a chicken.”

Supervisor Mike Lazarus said the eight-person jury’s unanimous verdict was enough to sway him.

“When those people found that (verdict) unanimous, that means there was discrimination there,” he said. “Right is right and wrong is wrong, and the school board is telling everybody they condone it. I want them to sit in front of me and tell me, ‘Do you condone discrimination?’ I was shocked when the verdict came back, because getting five or six people to agree on anything is hard.”

Supervisor’s President Darryl Grennell — whose term ends in January — said the rest of the board can take action to change the makeup of the school board after the New Year, when the term of Tim Blalock, one of the county’s appointees, expires.

School board appointments are term appointments rather than at-will appointments, meaning members cannot be removed unless they commit an offense within very defined parameters.

The school district has not yet had an opportunity to appeal the case because, even though the verdict has been returned, the court has not yet issued a final judgment in the matter.

In an order issued Thursday, the court said it will not issue a final judgment until all post-verdict motions have been filed, in particular a motion the plaintiff indicated would be filed requiring the district to pay Idom’s legal fees.