In 5 to 1 vote, aldermen reappoint Brenda M. Robinson to Natchez Adams School Board

Published 3:35 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

NATCHEZ — Thanks to passionate persuasion from two aldermen, the Natchez Board of Aldermen reappointed Brenda M. Robinson to another term on the Natchez Adams School Board.

Brenda Robinson

The aldermen’s education committee, consisting of Aldermen Valencia Hall, Sarah Carter Smith and Dan Dillard, met Feb. 7 and interviewed six people who submitted applications for the school board seat.

That approach is a different one than the board of aldermen have taken in the past when appointing people to board positions.

Email newsletter signup

Hall, who is chairman of the education committee, said each alderman scored each candidate on a point system independently. The three candidates who received the most points were Mary Lessley, Jessica Lewis and Shalanda White. Hall asked that a meeting be set up for the board as a whole to interview those three candidates.

However, Alderman Billie Joe Frazier made a motion to reappoint Robinson to the school board, which was seconded by Alderman Felicia Bridgewater Irving.

“Why are we looking at other applicants when we have someone already on the school board who is doing an excellent job?” Frazier asked. “It was requested that she be reappointed to the school board. We have a process dealing with other people. We have turned around and reappointed them.”

Bridgewater Irving complained that the notice about the education meeting that was sent said it would be available to the public via Facebook Live, but that wasn’t the case. She showed up at the meeting as a member of the public, she said, but was asked to leave because, as an alderman, her presence at the meeting constituted a quorum. She asked that the attorney general be asked for an opinion as to whether she should have been asked to leave the education committee meeting.

She argued that Robinson was a guiding force for the school board, which took the district from an F district to one with a B rating.

Bridgewater Frazier seemed to suggest the aldermen should only appoint someone who is Black to the open position.

At present, only one member of the five-person school board — Dianne Bunch — is white.

“The school district is composed of 99 percent Black students, and the school board should reflect that,” she said.

The vote was called and aldermen Frazier, Smith, Irving, Ben Davis and Dillard voted in favor of reappointing Robinson. Hall cast the lone nay voted.

Later in the meeting, Alderman Sarah Carter Smith addressed Bridgewater Irving’s comments about the racial composition of the school board.

“I think it is a danger to say diversity on any board is not a good thing. We need diversity in everything we do,” Smith said.

She also said the aldermen need clarity on what the city’s committees should do and “how things should be handled.”