CCS School Board to Vote on New Superintendent Tuesday Morning

CCS School Board to Vote on New Superintendent Tuesday Morning
A prediction by Robert A. Williams

The Cleveland County Board of Education will meet Tuesday (May, 20, 2014) at 10:30AM at 400 W. Marion Street in Shelby to select a new superintendent to replace Dr. Bruce Boyles, Jr., who resigned earlier this year.

Some background:
The past (and present) credit card scandal at Cleveland County Schools (CCS) brought attention to the CCS that manifested itself into two new school board members being elected in 2013. Danny Blanton was elected due to his promise of change at CCS and to make more school funds available to the Classroom. Donnie Thurman, Jr. was elected due to his smooth speaking ability and his promise to help the children. Kathy Falls and Phillip Glover were re-elected in 2013. This resulted in a seven to two split on the School Board. Seven members of the old regime and two who were expected to advocate change. Donnie Thurman was soon compromised and joined the majority to form an 8-1 advantage to block Danny Blanton from getting any changes made to problems at CCS.

During the 2013 Election cycle I had heard about the credit card scandal but had no first hand knowledge regarding just how far flung and bad the wasteful spending was at CCS. So, after the swearing in of the CCS Board in December 2013, I submitted several Freedom of Information Act Requests to CCS asking for credit card receipts and why the money was spent for each receipt. This was apparently the first time CCS had been challenged by a targeted approach to getting to the bottom of the credit card scandal and then publishing the results. Within several months of runaround from Dr. Boyles and the Board (except Danny Blanton), a persistent refusal to back down from the Freedom of Information Act Requests, and publishing numerous and suspicious credit card charges we already had, lead to Boyles’s resignation even though he had Board approved contract options to continue as superintendent through 2017 and likely beyond. Dr. Boyles and the Board called this a “retirement” but Boyles contract had no retirement clause. His only contract option was to RESIGN with a 90 day notice, which is what he actually did.

So, now there is gong to be a vacancy for the office of Superintendent at CCS.

The superintendent hiring process:
There are fair and honest hiring practices where you send out for applications, select your hiring criteria to benefit the organization, interview and hire the best candidates. Then there is the way Cleveland County does business. That is they promise a fair and honest process, yet they have their inside wheeling and dealing pick that they select in the end. Look at the recent County Commissioners. When County Manager Eddie Bailes walked out the door for lunch one day and never came back, the Commissioners picked David Deer’s buddy from Asheville, Jeff Richardson. Soon after Jeff comes on Board, he fires Chris Crepps, the county’s financial director. This will be covered in a later article.

In the case of the Cleveland County Schools, the Board spends $15,000 for a consultant to help them “look” like they are being fair, hold a bunch of closed door meetings and, according to the Cleveland County MO, we think it will come down to this:
1. The Survey CCS conducted overwhelmingly stated that the new Superintendent should come from the outside. We think the CCS School Board will ignore this recommendation from the people. Hey, they always do.

2. I recommended that CCS look for the top 10 school systems in the state and the USA and recruit from that group. I think CCS will ignore this too.

3. A number of people spoke up in favor of “diversity” at a CCS Board meeting, which, in effect, recommended Dr. Linda Hopper for the Superintendent’s job. Our review of credit card chargers showed Linda Hopper also liked to use CCS credit cards. But, more to the point, Dr. Hopper is black and old racial feelings die hard amongst the old guard in Cleveland County and on the old guard CCS School Board too. Richard Hooker and Donnie Thurman, Jr. will likely support Dr. Hopper for superintendent. Kathy Falls and Shearra Miller may also support Dr. Hopper because she is a woman, but may not.

4. Dr. Steven Fisher has rapidly been promoted to Assistant Superintendent by Dr. Boyles and the Board during this hiring process and we consider Dr. Fisher to be the inside wheeling and dealing board favorite. We predict Jack Hamrick, Phillip Glover, Jerry Hoyle, Roger Harris and perhaps Shearra Miller and/or Kathy Falls will support Fisher for Superintendent. Danny Blanton will likely oppose this selection as there will be no change from Dr. Boyles’s CCS under Dr. Fisher’s CCS.

5. Dr. Art Stellar, recently run off from the Burke County School Superintendent’s job, is the most like Dr. Boyles. Stellar’s appointment as Superintendent in Burke County and the chaos there caused a thousand people to show up at a School Board meeting and twenty cops being called to protect the Board. At the next election, all the old Board members up for re-election were thrown out of office by the Burke County voters and Stellar’s contract was bought out/terminated. We believe the CCS Board will recognize that if they select Art Stellar in 2014 they will be gone in 2015. The CCS Board may seem dumb very often during all the credit card and sex scandals, but they are not that stupid. Maybe not anyway.

6. Perhaps there is another candidate that we have never heard of that may be in the mix. He or she will be out of contention unless he or she is kin to someone high up in the Cleveland County social standing. Then, all bets are off and Dr. Fisher will come out empty handed.

The meeting:
My prediction is the CCS School Board has the potential for some dynamite going off on Tuesday morning. Not necessarily in open session, but probably in closed session.

The meeting will begin in open session and then vote to go into closed session to discuss a personnel matter. If Danny Blanton or anybody else has been reading up on parliamentary procedure, they may oppose the closed session. However, I suspect the closed session motion will pass.

The Board goes into closed session where any dissention will be squelched if possible by Dr. Hamrick and the in-crowd. There will be a major push to have all Board Members unanimous on who the next CCS superintendent will be. This is unlikely, no matter how much pressure gets put on Board members.

The Board comes out of closed session and enters the open session to vote on their selection for superintendent. Dr. Boyles will likely have the meeting room packed with CCS employees to support what Dr. Boyles says to support.

The old guard would want to have a nomination to select their candidate made first, then make a motion with a second to close the nominations. This is an old trick, but it usually works. Odds are it will work again and Dr. Steven or the secret candidate who is kin to somebody will likely be voted in as the next superintendent and Dr. Hopper’s supporters and Danny Blanton will be out maneuvered. However, If Kathy Falls, Shearra Miller, Richard Hooker, Donnie Thurman, Jr. and Danny Blanton can come together, Dr. Linda Hopper may become the next CCS Superintendent. This is a long shot though and still would be against the will of the people for an outsider to be selected.

Of coarse just a few persons up on parliamentary procedure could pull the rug out from under the in-crowd Board members and pull that same trick on them to nominate a good outsider who would turn CCS around. We suspect Dr. Hamrick will not allow that as he would rule it out of order. Like he does when Danny Blanton wants to say something at a CCS Board meeting.

Editor’s Note: Folks, all this is conjecture on my part based on my observations of the “shenanigans” of the CCS School Board. I have no personal knowledge of who actually applied for the Superintendent’s job at CCS, but I have studied the situation and believe my guesses will be close. Overall, this selection for CCS superintendent is a major undertaking with the potential of great changes at CCS. It may also turn out to be a show that should not be missed by those who are interested in educating the children in Cleveland County. And who recognize that the 2015 Election will be the opportunity to get rid of the old guard school board members-once and for all.

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