Kendrick voices frustration with BOE members

Published 7:32 pm Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Because last Thursday’s meeting was the first of the new calendar year, the election of the board chairman and vice chairman was on the agenda for the Decatur County Board of Education.

The normally-mundane nominating and voting process took an unconventional turn, however, with board member Clarissa Kendrick leveling claims that she is excluded from board decisions and questioning the board’s personnel decisions.

After Superintendent Dr. Fred Rayfield opened the floor for board chairman nominations, Randall Jones nominated current chairman Dr. Sydney Cochran to continue in that role. Kendrick moved to close the nominations, but said she had questions for Cochran before a vote was taken.

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“Dr. Cochran, I have often heard you say that you don’t like controversial issues, and I guess we all have our philosophies and what we like and what we don’t like. I don’t accept being excluded from anything I am in,” began Kendrick.

“We recently have had some people come before the board in regards to the employment of teachers and you replied, and I quote, ‘we employ the best applicants.’ That comment has disturbed me and I would like for you to explicitly name the ‘we’ that employ these applicants,” Kendrick asked of Cochran.

Cochran responded, “That would be our principals and the superintendent and the people that are involved in the process. And the we, as a board, approve or disapprove those recommendations.”

Kendrick then voiced concerns that she felt that she has been excluded from decisions made by the board, relative to personnel issues.

“When we had the retreat, some issues came up and I never did hear anything about the resolution of those issues. But, you came to me and explained to me what had been done, except for one item. I am concerned that I was never involved in a meeting concerning those issues,” Kendrick said.

“Ms. Kendrick, you were absent during the meeting when we went into closed session to discuss those items and because you weren’t there, I tried on numerous occasions to call you and talk to you about what had gone on,” Cochran said.

After the board discussed whether the personnel issues that concerned Kendrick were better addressed in a closed session, Kendrick went on to voice her dissatisfaction.

“I am dissatisfied in the way it happened and the way it was carried out,” she said. “And there are some other issues that I have been excluded from and I’m going to a higher level with it because I don’t like it.”

After that exchange, the board then took a vote on the nomination for Cochran to continue as board chairman. The board voted 5-1 for Cochran to continue to serve as board chairman. The lone “no” vote was cast by Kendrick, despite making the motion to close the nomination process with Cochran as the only nominee.

The board also chose for Jacky Grubbs to serve as vice chairman by a 5-1 vote, with Kendrick casting the “no” vote.