LITTLE ROCK SCHOOL DISTRICT

810 WEST MARKHAM STREET

LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS

 

 

MINUTES

SPECIAL BOARD MEETING

December 8, 2004

 

The Board of Directors of the Little Rock School District held a special meeting in conjunction with the regularly scheduled agenda meeting on Thursday, December 8, 2004, in the Boardroom of the Administration Building, 810 West Markham Street, Little Rock, Arkansas.� President Larry Berkley presided.

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:

           

Larry Berkley

Micheal Daugherty

Katherine Mitchell

Bryan Day

            Baker Kurrus

Tony Rose

Sue Strickland

 

 

MEMBERS ABSENT:

 

None

 

ALSO PRESENT:

 

            Roy G. Brooks, Superintendent of Schools

            Beverly Griffin, Recorder of Minutes

 

 

I.          CALL TO ORDER / ROLL CALL

 

Mr. Berkley called the meeting to order at 5:20 p.m. and stipulated a quorum without roll call. 

 

II.         PURPOSE OF THE MEETING

 

The agenda for the special meeting listed two items for the Board’s review and consideration.   

 

A.     Update:  Report on Schools with Low Enrollment
Mitchell and Fair Park Elementary Schools

 

B.     Employee Hearings

 

 

 

 

III.        ACTION AGENDA

 

A.      Update:  Report on Schools with Low Enrollment
  Mitchell and Fair Park Elementary Schools

 

Mark Milhollen presented the findings from The Big Picture – Report on Schools with Low Enrollment.  This report recommends closing Mitchell and Fair Park Elementary Schools due to age, the costs associated with extensive renovations required to maintain the schools, and declining enrollment. 

 

Mr. Milhollen reviewed the detailed findings of the report and a copy of The Big Picture will be made a part of these minutes. 

 

In the case of Mitchell School closing, the administration is recommending realignment of the attendance zones to place students at Stephens, King, and Washington Elementary Schools.   The Board and administration would work with the community to determine a positive alternate use for this building. 

 

Students currently assigned to Fair Park would be reassigned to Pulaski Heights, Brady and Franklin Elementary Schools.   The Fair Park facility would be reconfigured to serve as a pre-kindergarten center for the District. 

 

Dr. Mitchell objected to the closures, calling attention to the Board’s policy, which specifies a twelve month notice to the community prior to consideration of closure.  She stated that the Board had supported the renovations of the buildings during the 2000 millage election and she felt that the Board was not being fair to the community. 

 

Mr. Day and Mr. Berkley spoke in favor of the closings, saying that the District could not afford to continue spending money to operate schools that are not viable educational facilities; the Board has an overriding burden to do what is wise financially for the entire District. 

 

Mrs. Strickland also spoke in favor of the closings; saying that the Board had never made any promises to prevent them from closing schools and that tough decisions had to be made in the best interest of the entire District.

 


 

Each member of the Board who spoke in favor of closing Mitchell, also supported the recommendation to work with the community to find another use for the building.  It is hoped that a community use partnership can be established to make this a positive place for the community. 

 

The Board received the report, but took no formal action.  Mr. Day asked
Dr. Brooks to place the closing of Mitchell and the reconfiguration of Fair Park on the action agenda for the regular December meeting of the Board. 

 

 

B.     Employee Hearings

 

The Board went into a closed session to conduct employee hearings.   Two employees, Gary Whitfield and Jon Hackney, shared similar grievances and were granted a joint hearing at the request of their attorney, Mr. Mark Burnett.  Attorney Khyaam Eddings represented the District. 

 

Mr. Whitfield and Mr. Hackney were employees of the Facilities Services Department.  They were accused of filing false claims for workers compensation benefits.  They each reported having serious upper respiratory infections and difficulty breathing due to inhalation of and exposure to dust.  In particular, they stated that there were unsafe conditions at the Facilities Services warehouse and that another employee had used an air hose to blow dust on a day when employees were cleaning the shop area. 

 

These employees reported unsafe working conditions to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration Office.  An investigation was conducted by the Department of Labor, and no violations or safety hazards were determined to exist. 

 

Mr. Christopher Huckabay, a claims investigator for the Arkansas Municipal League, served as a witness on behalf of the District.  He reported that in his investigation he could not find anyone who witnessed the particular incident Mr. Whitfield and Hackney claimed caused their health problems.  A videotape of the shop area was shown during the hearing and it was clear that Mr. Whitfield and Mr. Hackney were outside while the air hose was being used to clean the shop.  Mr. Huckabay’s investigation concluded that the injury was not compensable under Arkansas Workers Compensation laws. 

 

Mr. Eaton, Director of Facilities Services, also responded to questions from the Attorneys as a witness for the LRSD.  He reported that during the course of his in-house investigation, both employees Whitfield and Hackney refused to assist in the investigation.  He became suspicious of their claims when he tried to determine how the alleged injuries came about. 

 

The recommendation to terminate these two employees was based on their filing of false workers compensation claims. 

 

The Board retired to deliberate at 8:15 p.m.  They returned at 8:30 p.m. and Ms. Strickland made a motion to uphold the administration’s recommendation for termination for filing of false claims.  Mr. Rose seconded the motion and it passed unanimously. 

 

 

IV.               ADJOURNMENT

 

There being no further business before the Board, the meeting adjourned at 8:15 p.m. on a motion by Mr. Rose, seconded by Mr. Kurrus.

 

 

 

 

APPROVED:  01-27-05                                           Originals Signed by:  

                        Larry Berkley, President

Katherine P.  Mitchell, Secretary