Kendrick speaks out on school board issues

Published 10:46 pm Friday, August 5, 2011

Decatur County Board of Education member Clarissa Kendrick feels superintendent Dr. Fred Rayfield is doing a fantastic job. But, undue influence by other members of the board is hampering some of his efforts.

During a visit to The Post-Searchlight offices late last week, Kendrick offered her opinions and observations concerning the recent discussions of employee applications and the personnel approval process. She also defended fellow board member, Winston Rollins, and his reasoning for not voting for Rayfield’s contract extension.

During the July 21 Board of Education meeting, Rollins cast the lone “no” vote to grant Rayfield a one-year extension of his contract, after the board met in a closed meeting to evaluate the superintendent.

In a written statement issued July 25, Rollins indicated that the reason for his no vote “extends back to discussions in our board retreat where he was asked to complete certain tasks and he has failed to do so.”

Both Rayfield and Board Chairman, Dr. Sydney Cochran, have denied that any such requests were made. Rayfield, in a written statement, said that the only request made of him by Rollins was to not file a report of a potential breach of the Educator Code of Ethics by Bainbridge High School assistant principal Patterson Moses, to the Professional Standards Commission. Rayfield is bound by state law to file such reports.

“Going to the board retreat was a unique experience, it was well set up and the atmosphere was good,” Kendrick said. “When we were asked questions of him (Rayfield), the chemistry was good.

“He brought some issues to that retreat; he presented those issues to us. The first issue he brought to us was personnel in two areas — one in the athletic department and one was weak leadership in a certain school. We agreed, as a board, for him to go forward in dealing with those issues.”

Kendrick said that the other concern that Rayfield brought to the board during the retreat, was the personal use of county-owned vehicles by school system employees.

“We accepted all of these concerns and I was happy to find out that we had a superintendent finding out about these particular problems so he could work on them and correct the problems,” Kendrick said.

“What went wrong when these things did not come to fruition?” Kendrick asked. “These things have been derailed under the cover and I will not say who I think is derailing, but it seems that someone is going behind our back, with the intention to derail.”

Kendrick defended Rollins’s claim that Rayfield has not completed certain tasks, indicating that Rayfield was influenced by other board members to change his stance on the issues brought to the board during the retreat. Kendrick also discussed the application process discussed during the July 21 board work session.

“I disagree that we are micro-managing when we ask to see the employment applications,” Kendrick said. “We hire the people, the superintendent does hire them, when we carry the motion, that means they have a job.

“In fact, I have been inclined to think we have too many people involved. We have the curriculum people involved, we have the personnel director that looks at the applications and then we have the superintendent that gives them to us.”

During the debate about the board members reviewing individual employment applications during the July 21 meeting, Cochran and board member Bobby Barber commented that reviewing applications would not fall under the board responsibilities and would be considered micro-managing.