School board meeting ends in walkout

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Selma Times-Journal

A discussion of financial matters heated up the Selma City School Board&8217;s meeting Thursday night, until a majority of members walked out.

School board member Debra Reeves-Howard wanted to read a letter that some members said alleged mismanagement and financial improprieties of system funds.

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Reeves-Howard wants a forensic audit of school finances. So does school board chairman John Williams. Both declined to be specific about the mismanagement.

Williams allowed Reeves-Howard to read the letter.

A majority of the members of the school board didn&8217;t want the letter read, so they overruled Williams and voted to adjourn. Six of the 10 members present walked out of the meeting, followed by Dr. Verdell Lett-Dawson, interim superintendent of education, the school board attorney and the schools&8217; chief financial officer.

But nobody on the board would make the letter public, which all members had a copy of.

Barbara Hioas said board members didn&8217;t want Reeves-Howard speaking for them, and many felt Reeves-Howard&8217;s actions were personal. When Dawson was appointed interim superintendent, Reeves-Howard was the only school board member who opposed the move.

Dr. Anne Fitts, Ben Givan, Jane Walker, Hioas, James Terry and

Winston Williams walked out. John Williams, Sylvia Smith, Coley Chestnut and Howard remained in the meeting. Dr. Kirit Chapatwala did not attend the meeting.

After the meeting adjourned, the board chairman said he would continue to ask for a forensic audit until he gets one because it was in the best interest of the school system.