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Members called on to resign, refuse

The soap opera involving the termination of Selma superintendent of education Dr. Donald Jefferson and the power struggle for control of the Selma City School System has entered the court system, but that didn’t stop residents Thursday evening in calling for significant changes.

A lawsuit filed by Jefferson against the Selma City School Board and its members has reportedly been filed in federal court, although details of the full filing were not available at deadline.

Although board members spent just shy of an hour in executive session to discuss pending legal action, none of the members, nor board attorney Katy Campbell would discuss the Jefferson case. They also refused comment on the executive session’s discussions and refused to confirm if the discussions involved the lawsuit filed on behalf of Jefferson.

But while discussions of Jefferson’s case kept board members quiet, it did quite the opposite when it came to residents who addressed the full board during their regular meeting.

“The concerned parents, our concerned parent group, along with 1,500 other parents and concerned citizens — and I’ve got those signatures right here — ask that you, Mrs. [Brenda] Obomanu, Mr. [Frank] Chestnut and Mr. [Holland] Powell, resign and vacate your seats as Selma City School Board members immediately,” said Carolyn Robinson, a resident who has been among organizers petitioning on behalf of reinstating Jefferson, holding what she said were petitions with 1,500 signatures. “We hope you will govern yourselves as employees of the people and not be insubordinate.”

The three board members called on to resign were the three members who attended and voted to terminate Jefferson’s contract during a nearly 10-hour hearing that began on Oct. 25.

During Robinson’s comments, she asked those three members — a group she called a three-member board of education — to repay Jefferson for lost pay and other suffering.

“We duly serve you notice tonight that upon the vindication of Dr. Donald Jefferson, and he will be vindicated of the misguided charges, that Dr. Donald Jefferson be returned to the position of superintendent, paid for the time lost by the three-member board terminating his job, paid with interest,” Robison said. “Dr. Jefferson will also be paid for pain and suffering inflicted on him by the three-member board and for defamation of his character. And, if anyway possible, you pay for punitive damages to our school system for our children’s education.”

At the conclusion of the meeting, all three said they would not resign.

“No, I am not resigning,” Obomanu said. “I do have the interests of the boys and girls in mind and I work hard to make sure that they get the best education that Selma can provide.”

While Powell offered a one word answer, “no,” Chestnut offered more of an explanation, citing response for residents in the district he represents.

“The people of District 3 put me in and I’m going to continue to work hard to be a public servant,” Chestnut said. “I’ve received overwhelming support about the actions this board has taken to ensure that policies and procedures are followed.”