Little denies allegations of threats
By By Lynette Wilson / staff writer
July 2, 2002
Lauderdale County School Superintendent David Little on Monday denied allegations by two school board members that he had been a party to threats against them.
Little also dismissed charges that he refused to recommend budget cuts to the school board or implement cost-saving measures.
Former school board president Jimmy Gibson abruptly resigned last week after saying he had been threatened for suggesting budget cuts and criticizing Little's handling of fiscal issues.
Scott Sollie, the District 4 school board member, also supported Gibson and criticized Little in a letter published in The Meridian Star on Sunday.
Little said Monday that the entire controversy began earlier this year when Gibson said he wanted to fire the school district's curriculum director, Clara Godine. Little said she had done outstanding work.
If she hadn't he said he told Gibson, "I would have to treat her like we would any other administrator. This would involve putting her on a plan of improvement and giving her up to a year to come up to our standards."
Little said he believes that Gibson tried to reorganize the school board's central office after attorneys told him Godine couldn't be fired.
Minutes from a special meeting of the Lauderdale County School Board on April 2nd show that Little and Assistant Superintendent Ed Mosley were asked to cut one administrative position at the central office.
Initially, Little and Mosley refused. But later, after excusing themselves from the meeting for a private discussion, they decided they would cut an administrative staff position at the central office by the beginning of the 2003 school year.
But the minutes show that the board decided 3-2 to eliminate Godine's position. Sollie, Gibson and Robbie Hales voted yes; Barbara Jones and Pam Frazier voted no.
The position, however, was later re-instated.
Sollie said in his letter on Sunday that all three board members who voted to eliminate Godine's position were threatened with personal lawsuits charges Little denies.
In his resignation letter, Gibson said the administration made no recommendations for cutting the budget.
But Little provided a memo dated March 28 in which Mosley included legal documents spelling out the ramifications should the board decide to eliminate jobs.
Also attached to the memo were expense and activities worksheets, district breakdown by staff and location and central office reduction's dating back to 1996.
Whether or not the administration simply supplied budget information or actually made cut recommendations is unclear.
In the end, Little said the budget was cut $254,610 a figure slightly exceeding the board's one percent goal.