Facts should speak for themselvesPublished 10:55pm Saturday, March 3, 2012
By Holland Powell
Selma City School Board member
“I’m for truth no matter who tells it.
I’m for justice, no matter who it’s for or against” — Malcolm X
Let’s look at the truth, the facts surrounding the STI services; what exactly led to the termination of Dr. Don Jefferson and the ongoing protest of the board’s actions. After the article in Wednesday’s edition of The Selma Times Journal it is time the entire truth of this matter be told. Our community needs to move forward and the truth is the path.
Dr. Udo Ufomadu wrote, “We must reap what we sow” a biblical reference which he often professes. Selma City School Board President Henry Hicks is quoted as saying “If Dr. Jefferson did this, then we’ll know that Dr. Jefferson needs to pay this.” There are folks protesting while wearing red shirts proclaiming themselves as “Parents Against Corrupt Officials.” This board member, taxpayer and concerned parent agrees with all of the above.
The facts are Dr. Jefferson entered into a contract with STI in 2010 without seeking the approval of the board; Selma City Schools did not have a contract with STI prior to Dr. Jefferson’s appointment as interim superintendent yet he took it solely upon himself to do so. Perhaps this could have been written off as a freshman mistake but his years of experience in the public schools trained him to know the proper procedure in Alabama; the truth is he knew he needed board approval. The costs were in excess of $150,000 and their services were only mentioned in passing during a board meeting several months later.
An email was sent by Selma City Schools employee Joslyn Reddick to Nicole Pezent of STI Tuesday Aug. 9, 2011 at 12:57 p.m. she wrote “As per our conversation and as directed by Dr. Jefferson, I am writing this Intent to Enter into Contract statement.” Dr. Reddick continued “…it is the intent of the Selma City Schools to enter into this contract agreement with STI Achievement Services pending Board approval and said contract becoming effective after October 1, 2011.” However, when Dr. Jefferson brought the renewal of STI’s services, $210,000, to the board on Sept. 8, 2011 it was voted down and questions were then asked about the prior contract that was completed without the Board’s knowledge.
We are after all, first and foremost the stewards of the taxpayer’s funds that are designated for the benefit of the children. Each board member swore an oath to uphold the rules and law. It is our duty to put politics and personal relationships aside to protect the children.
After this vote on Sept. 8, Dr. Jefferson, through another email sent by Joslyn Reddick dated Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011 at 9:56 p.m. stated the following “Principals, As instructed by Dr. Jefferson, we will continue with the STI Assessment schedule. The assessments arrived on Friday evening. I have a cabinet meeting in the morning and a meeting with STI i20 at SOD at 9:30.”
Ms. Reddick testified under oath that this was correct and orders were given by Dr. Jefferson even though the board had voted against this action. While complicit, she was simply following orders from her superior just as STI was following orders from Dr. Jefferson. No one believes Dr. Reddick has committed fraud or perjury.
A review of the budget and finances of the Selma City Schools will quickly reveal the facts that there are no line items for STI or Professional Development. Budgets and financial statements are public information and can be viewed at any time upon request. In the work session Tuesday it was obvious to anyone following the facts that this smoke screen was trying to be raised again. The truth does not support this misinformation.
Given these facts even the PACO folk would have to agree that Dr. Jefferson is simply reaping what he sowed. Mr. Hicks needs to demand that Dr. Jefferson pay this bill, not the City Schools. If they (Hicks, Ufomadu and PACO) truly believe in the statements they made, how could they continue on their quest of protest given the facts?
The obvious truth is that Dr. Jefferson contracted with STI in 2010 without board approval then renewed the contract into 2011 against the board’s directive. Even when his recommendation was denied by the board, he continued to instruct the Selma City School employees to implement the program. It was not until Dr. Jefferson was put on administrative leave that the program was cancelled by the then acting superintendent Mr. Gerald Shirley.
To do what is legally right and morally right, the board had no other option but to terminate Dr. Jefferson. What level of mentor would the board be if we did not take this action and allowed such misdeeds to go unpunished?
Even though the truth does not support their position these political minions were once again rallying at the recent work session with an obvious smoke screen to shift this blame to the current interim superintendent Mr. Shirley. Try as they may this politically motivated group will fail. As Dr. King so eloquently wrote in his letters from the Birmingham jail “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.
Let’s set politics aside for once in Selma. The damage the money grubbing politicians have done to our city simply must stop. In the absence of justice, what is freedom but organized robbery? Let us continue the march started 47 years ago, a march toward the future, not back to the same period of following those who create chaos for profit. Education is the only path out of poverty and it is being stolen by those who profess to put the children first.
I leave you with more powerful words from Dr. King:
“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”