Superintendent discussion dominates board meeting Tuesday

The Henry County Board of Education held its monthly board meeting Tuesday. (Staff Photo: Heather Middleton)

McDONOUGH — The Board of Education’s decision to rescind a contract offer to the sole superintendent finalist dominated the BOE’s regular business meeting Tuesday evening.

More than 30 residents spoke during public participation, some in favor of the decision with many others asking the board to reconsider.

“This is weighing very heavy on my heart,” said resident Diane Miller. “I implore you to reconsider your decision. I realize this is very difficult. Vote with your heart and mind and do what’s right for the children.”

Pamela Miller spoke in support of the rescission.

“I agree there was something wrong with the process,” she said. “As someone who has negotiated with CEOs, you did the right thing. There is nothing that says you have to negotiate when you’re that far apart.”

Board Chair Pam Nutt said during the meeting that the board’s naming of Timothy Gadson as sole finalist did not automatically make him the superintendent. She explained that Gadson’s counsel was given two opportunities by the board’s counsel to make amendments to his counteroffer.

“They failed to make any counteroffers after two requests were made,” Nutt said. She added, “There were more demands than what we could give.”

Gadson said his counsel asked for clarification.

“It’s very hard to make any changes if specifics aren’t given,” he said.

Board member Donna McBride said the board was in violation of its own policy, stating that the policy requires that contract negotiations must be done exclusively by board members.

However, according to the district’s Superintendent Recruitment Policy, “Terms and conditions of the contract between the Superintendent and the Henry County Board of Education shall be negotiated by the Board or its representatives and shall not become effective until approved by the Board in open session.”

McBride stated the board did not provide the contract to Gadson, but rather its legal counsel did so. She claimed it was not reviewed or approved by the board.

But board member Josh Hinton said that all five BOE members met with the district’s legal counsel about the contract.

“We did discuss the contract in detail. We did discuss the pay. We did agree on the terms. All five of us were in the room together,” he said.

Board member Annette Edwards, who was in support of Gadson, made a motion to go into closed session “so we can discuss issuing another contract.”

The motion failed 2-3.

Gadson, who attended both the study session and meeting, said Wednesday he has resigned from his position in Minnesota and doesn’t know what his next step will be.

“I’m still hopeful the board will change its mind,” he said. “I’m available. I’d love for our representatives to find common ground.”

The board appears to be moving on with its search to find another superintendent candidate.

“I thank you for your patience and understanding as we work to find the best candidate,” Nutt said.

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Education reporter Heather Middleton joined the Clayton News and Henry Herald in 2002.

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