A preliminary report of an investigative audit dated Dec. 4 from MDE to Superintendent Vikki Landry and BWSD School Board President Mike Bell – provided by BWSD board attorney Ronnie Artigues – stated that MDE found the district in violation of “Process Standards 1 and 1.1.; a board member is acting individually and outside of the role prescribed by law by giving directives to district staff members.” According to Standard 1, “the local school board’s responsibilities shall pertain to matters of setting policy and shall not interfere in the day-to-day operations of the school district that include, but are not limited to, such duties as those relating to personnel and management decisions.” 1.1 states that “the school board assigns all executive and administrative duties to the superintendent.”
And for all the lurid things found by MDE auditors late last year all it took was a response from School Board Attorney Ronnie Artigues supported by the minutes to cause MDE to withdraw their recommendation that the district be placed on probation.
On Jan. 30, MDE issued its response – also provided by Artigues – where MDE withdrew its recommendation for probation.
However, Office of Accreditation Executive Director Jo Ann Malone said in the letter that MDE “still has concerns regarding the allegations made that prompted the investigative audit” because the superintendent and other board members did not provide information in the district’s response that “confirms or contradicts MDE’s findings.”
“Therefore, the MDE will continue to monitor the actions of the board member(s) of the district throughout the 2017-2018 school year or until such time the Office of Accreditation determines the district is fully compliant with all process standards of the Mississippi Public Schools Accountability Standards, 2017,” Malone said in the response.
Equally amusing but not quite as inane was the question about whether or not a school level administrative assistant (school secretary) had any contact with the children. My own experience is a teacher has a kid for a year, maybe two tops while the same child comes to the same office needing help at various times every year they attend school. By definition a school secretary would have more contact with the children over the long haul.
Just an observation but in all my time attending BSL Council meetings, never once did I see the previous council deny the Mayor such an appointment, even when the Mayor and Council were not otherwise getting along. That would have been true in February of this year had then Mayor Fillingame appointed Maurice Singleton to another term on the School Board.
Where the Superintendent’s report shown on the agenda is skipped (routinely) and the Business Manager brings budgetary information to the Board, including raising local property taxes by 4 mils percent, but forgets to bring all the backup documentation in case there were questions.
If you are imagining that all this went down last night on Second Street in Bay St Louis you would be correct. As for the public that was assembled wanting to learn about what is being down to improve the dismal 3rd grade reading scores….well those things are not discussed, at least in public anyhow.
In other news Slabbed has learned that a local law enforcement agency is investigating the public money the School District spent to send former School Board President Maurice Singleton to Denver Colorado after his term of office expired.
And why are we calling HB 51 Leslie’s law? Mainly because it cleaned up a questionable AG’s opinion that involved the City of Bay St Louis and its unqualified perpetually interim crony Chief Building Inspector Charles Oliver. Kingfish at Jackson Jambalaya has been all over this issue for two years now and his post yesterday on the topic is a must read for everyone in the Bay. The citizens in “Strong Mayor” Chartered towns throughout Mississippi owe Senator Harkins an Atta Boy for seeing this good government measure through the legislature to the Governor’s desk. Here is a snippet from Kingfish’s post:
The first challenge to this law took place in Bay St. Louis, where good ole boy politics reigns supreme. The Mayor fired the building inspector seven years ago and appointed a close friend who was not qualified to the job on an interim basis. He has never been confirmed by the city council and is not a certified building inspector. Such things mean nothing to Mayor Fillingame. Interim means eternal as far as he is concerned. The city council challenged his employment after the law became effective on July 1, 2016. However, Mayor Fillingame and city attorney Donald Rafferty went running to Jim Hood for some cover and he gave it to them. Earlier post with copy of opinion.
I’d posit this is also very bad news for Mayor Fillingame’s latest scheme involving the Bay Waveland School Board as he has failed to make an appointment to fill Maurice Singleton’s seat on the Board of Trustees. Singleton’s term expired in February and Fillingame has steadfastly refused to make a school board appointment to fill the seat, instead arguing that Singleton, who appears to be cooperative in the Mayor’s scheme, is now a 180 day interim appointment. With the State Auditor’s office now empowered to enforce financial penalties associated with this kind of abuse, it will be interesting to see if Singleton continues his role as the Mayor’s lap dog. Stay tuned.