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School board spends most of meeting in executive session

Members of the Lawrence County school board spent the majority of their meeting time July 21 in executive session considering student matters, specifically transfer requests for students to attend schools other than the ones specified by their home address.
Fifteen families were on the agenda to have their requests heard, including Tabatha and Jimmy Hill, Crystal Eley, Melanie Wallace, Emily Buckley, Linda Armstrong, Lisa Brown-Fortenberry, Katina Williams, Sabrina Cupstid, Wendi Pendergrass, Kristi Moak, Kim Sawyer, Erica Peyton-Walker, Taylor Ballard, Candace Sandifer, and Alissa Butler. Some of those were district employees whose children normally are allowed to attend the school at which they teach.
Answers on the requests were not made known during the meeting. Board President Wesley Bridges reported that some were granted, some were not, and that parents would be notified the next day.
Other Business
Minutes and financial reports were approved.
Cindy Bryan addressed the board, expressing her concern for the future of the district. Bryan said that certain actions and non-action by the board will jeopardize accreditation. She pointed out that it is the board’s duty to set policy and that some of the board’s practices raise questions. She said that some ways the board is overstepping its authority and that racial remarks are concerning.
Bryan said power to one group should not be part of the conversation and pointed out there is not an unlimited amount of taxes to build whatever the board wants. She suggested board members find a compass and do what is right for the county.
Eugene Bryant, after reviewing the district’s restart and recovery plan, asked if recommendations from the CDC or the Mississippi Department of Education are being followed. He asked if the district is planning for COVID exposure tracing and asked what is being done to protect those with disabilities. He also asked how students and staff who are exposed will be handled.
Amos Bridges pointed out the risk of infection by the coronavirus by coming back to school, stating that you cannot control households and what infection individuals may bring to school. He suggested using sanitation funds to invest in technology for virtual learning and delay the start of school rather than be responsible for infection and deaths. He acknowledged there are no clear answers, but the district should put safety over danger.
Tracy Alexander thanked Superintendent Titus Hines, his administration, and the board for their effort to make sure schools are safe. She asked if the online lesson system is going to be ready in a timely fashion and suggested a delay in starting school or a virtual restart.
Brittany Peyton appeared before the board in the protective gear she wears as a registered nurse. She also asked for a delayed start for school, pointing out that many caregivers have underlying conditions and asked what the backup to the backup will be, indicating that if teachers get sick, there may not be enough substitutes. She also questioned how the district will track how and where students get masks and if they will be sanitary.

Read More in the July 29, 2020 E-Edition