Dukes defended; board organized

Friday, September 17, 2010

Marshall County school board members were described as disappointing last week as they were asked to put children ahead of personal issues.

School board members elected Mike Keny to another term as their chairman, and voted in Barbara Kennedy as vice chairman, and Randy Perryman as chairman pro tem at their September meeting last week. Every seat was taken before the meeting started, but it was unclear whether people were there to watch the board conduct business, or to hear the members of the public who had requested to speak.

"I am increasingly alarmed by the activities of this board," said the first speaker, Mike Grippin. He explained he was a taxpayer and a grandparent of children in Marshall County schools, and said he had been attending school board meetings even before moving to Lewisburg.

Grippin praised the board for choosing Roy Dukes as director of schools, calling this a "right step."

"However," Grippin continued, "I am sorely disappointed that some board members vote 'no' on every action of the director." He called this "overt racism," and said it was not a good example for students.

Grippin also took the board to task about the budget.

"It's your duty to stand behind it," he told them, claiming that some board members had underhandedly let county commissioners know they were not in favor of the budget that was being presented.

The next speaker, Simona Hopkins, re-stated Grippin's point more vividly.

"Everything Mr. Dukes - or Linda Williams-Lee or Patsey Thomas - wants to do gets shot down," Hopkins exclaimed.

She also said she had attended many board meetings, and told the board, "You've got to get along - when I come home from your meetings, I'm mad."

"This is for the children," Hopkins reminded board members. She specifically asked the new member, Donnie Moses, if his change was going to be for the best.

"This board is going to have to work," Hopkins told them. "Nothing's getting accomplished."

The third speaker was Lisa Jagod, a teacher at Marshall Elementary School. She was full of praise for Dukes, thanking him for a "calm and stress-free beginning to the school year," but told school board members they needed to be unbiased and professional.

"Put the children ahead of your personal issues," Jagod urged them, telling board members to concentrate on building up, not tearing down. "This division has to stop," she said.

"I can't think of a more faithful servant than Roy Dukes," Jagod concluded.