June 8, 2004
Board of Directors of the Little Rock School District held a special session at
5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 8, 2004, in the Boardroom of the Administration Building, 810 West Markham Street, Little Rock, Arkansas. President Tony Rose presided.
Beverly Griffin, Recorder of Minutes
I. CALL TO ORDER
President Tony Rose called the meeting to order at 5:00 p.m. Six members of the Board were present at roll call; Dr. Daugherty arrived at 5:07 p.m.
II. PURPOSE OF THE MEETING
The meeting was called in response to a petition from Concerned Citizens United.
Mr. Rose addressed the audience and stated that 45 minutes would be allotted for the group to make their presentation. Each Board member would then be allowed an opportunity to made comments.
III. PRESENTATION / SPEAKERS
Mark Perry, Executive Director of New Futures for Youth, introduced himself as a committed supporter of the LRSD. He expressed appreciation for Dr. Morris Holmes and the work that Dr. Holmes had done over the past year as interim superintendent. Mr. Perry asked the Board to carefully consider the qualities and qualifications of the person selected to be the next superintendent. He asked whether that person would stay in Little Rock for a number of years, and whether that person would come here with a commitment to the community that Dr. Holmes has exhibited. He stressed the importance of seeking the input of the community when selecting the next Superintendent of Schools.
Otis Tyler asked the Board to review the “gaps” that exist in the community beyond test score and achievement gaps. He noted the “gaps” exist in housing, city services in specified neighborhoods, infrastructure, income levels, and the differences in the educational background of parents or grandparents who are raising children. He stated that Concerned Citizens United was interested in promoting “direct democracy” and had a desire to engage the District’s Board and administration in robust conversation that would lead to reasoned and informed judgments.
Annie Abrams stated that Concerned Citizens United was organized with the intent of serving as an impetus to include all citizens, parents and other community members in ensuring academic achievement for all children, especially those from lower income neighborhoods. She stated that CCU was challenged to confront the LRSD Board in order to gain a participatory role in the selection of the next Superintendent of the LRSD. She stated that Morris Holmes would provide stability that had not been present during the past few years in the LRSD, and she expressed a firm belief that he would remain committed to the children of this city. She expressed confidence that the LRSD would continue to produce “thinkers” and committed citizens for the 21st century.
Kathy Wells introduced herself as a community activist and a member of the CCU. She recommended Morris Holmes for the position of Superintendent of Schools and stated that the Board had made a grave mistake by not offering an interview to Dr. Holmes. She stated that the Board could rectify that mistake by allowing an interview immediately. Ms. Wells listed Dr. Holmes’ past work history and experience as a teacher, principal, and Superintendent of a large school district. She stated that Dr. Holmes had a reputation for being a hard worker who inspired leadership.
Ms. Wells reminded the Board that they had adopted a Strategic Plan that was developed through participation with members of the community and she asked them to follow through on the plan that they adopted.
Dr. George Blevins presented a PowerPoint slide show that compared statistics and demographic information through a variety of charts and graphs. The information provided was a result of his research of the websites of the school districts where the candidates for the LRSD Superintendency are currently employed.
Terrance Bolden reviewed the purpose of the incorporation of the group Concerned Citizens United. He stated that community members were disenfranchised, and that the LRSD Board had an opportunity to make things right by taking action that is fair and right. He stated support for Morris Holmes, and said that the Board and the community owed Dr. Holmes a degree of dignity and respect for his 35 – 40 year career as an educator, and for the year that he gave as Interim Superintendent. Mr. Bolden asked the Board to consider offering Dr. Holmes an opportunity to interview for the position of Superintendent, and he asked the Board to seriously consider why they did not consider him a candidate in the first place.
IV. BOARD COMMENTS
Mr. Berkley thanked the members of the community who were present. He stated his commitment to all the children in the District, and noted that in his eight years on the Board, he had always voted in a manner that he felt would provide a quality education to all the children. He remarked on the public forum that had been held recently and his disappointment in some of the negative expressions made at that time.
Mr. Day thanked the speakers and the audience members who attended. He expressed appreciation for their commitment, and his sincere desire to work for the betterment of the LRSD for all children.
Dr. Daugherty expressed concern and disappointment in some of the disparaging comments that had been made recently; comments that had created a rift in the community and a rift between members of the LRSD Board. He reminded the audience that this is a personnel issue, and as such some factors cannot be discussed in public. He stated his respect for Dr. Holmes, and his appreciation for the past year that Dr. Holmes had served as interim superintendent. He thanked the CCU for the work they are doing and for their commitment to expressing their opinions and beliefs.
Mr. Kurrus thanked the audience and thanked his fellow Board members for the process that brings everyone together for a common goal. He stated that everyone in the room should continue to work together to make things better for the kids; that even though everyone won’t agree, this process allows equal weight to everyone who speaks.
Mr. Kurrus then noted some of the qualities that the Board determined would be desirable when selecting the next superintendent. He agreed that it was important to find someone who was committed to stay in Arkansas for a long period of time, but stated that it was also important to look for an individual who had experience in assessment and accountability, someone who could produce measurable gains in student achievement, someone with a strong background in finance, and a person who would be a team builder.
Dr. Mitchell commended the CCU for their organizational efforts to work together to achieve and succeed. She said that she had been thinking and praying and that she wanted to do the right thing. She admitted previous statements of her opinion that the Board had made a mistake by not offering an interview to Dr. Holmes. She stated that the Board had indicated to him when he accepted the interim position that they would talk to him after he had been on the job for six months. She said that the Board had not conducted an evaluation of Dr. Holmes’ job performance, nor had they given him an opportunity to discuss his interest in the position on a permanent basis.
Dr. Mitchell closed by asking the Board and the audience to keep at the focal point the children and be mindful of the citizens they will become.
Ms. Strickland thanked the audience for their participation in this forum. She noted that the Board was listening, with their ears and with their hearts. She expressed hope and optimism that the CCU and other interested members of the community would continue to support the LRSD and the children, no matter who is selected to be the next Superintendent.
Mr. Rose stated that his recollection of the original conversations with Dr. Holmes differed from Dr. Mitchell’s version, and he stated emphatically that Dr. Holmes was never offered or promised the permanent position.
Mr. Rose continued, by noting that the five candidates selected for interview were thought to be the most qualified, with the strongest backgrounds, and the best fit for the LRSD. He said that the majority of the Board still supported the original decision to interview the best and strongest candidates.
V. EXECUTIVE SESSION
At 6:30 p.m., Mr. Day moved for an executive session for the purpose of discussing personnel issues. Ms. Strickland seconded the motion, and it carried unanimously.
The Board returned from executive session at 7:00 p.m. and reported that no action was taken.
Mr. Kurrus moved adjournment, Ms. Strickland seconded. The meeting was adjourned at 7:00 p.m.
APPROVED: _ 06-24-04 __ Originals Signed by:
Tony Rose, President
R. Micheal Daugherty, Secretary