Jan. 2022 boardroom bits: ethics, charter school committees appointed

·5 min read

The Jackson-Madison County school board appointed community members to the ethics committee that investigates violations of JMCSS employees and to a charter school committee that will review applications.

The board reappointed former 30-year Denmark Elementary teacher Pamela Bates, former steel company human resource worker Bill Kipp and Gibson County pastor Paul Lacy to the ethics committee for another one-year term.

Kipp and Lacy have served since the district’s first committee was appointed in Oct. 2019, and Bates was first appointed in Jan. 2021.

The five-member, citizen-only committee will also have Linda Pride, a Jackson State Community College math professor and former school board candidate, and Richard Donnell, Sr, Lane College’s senior advisor to the president.

Pride applied to fill a vacant seat on the school board in 2020 after board member Morris Merriweather resigned.

June 2019: Jackson-Madison schools ethics committee would be made up of five citizens, no board member or district employees

Nov. 2019: JMCSS ethics committee holds first meeting, reviews process

Jan. 2021 boardroom bits: Familiar faces to be on ethics committee

Board members recommend citizens for the committee, but Board Chairman James "Pet" Johnson ultimately nominates members for board approval.

Board member Janice Hampton recommended Pride as well as Georgia Wright who wasn’t chosen.

Johnson recommended Donnell and asked Bates to serve another term.

The newly-formed JMCSS ethics committee met for the first time Tuesday to review their duties. Pictured around the table, from l to r, are Paul Lacy, Bill Kipp, Clarence Boone and Sylvia Showalter. Committee member Joe Mays was not present.
The newly-formed JMCSS ethics committee met for the first time Tuesday to review their duties. Pictured around the table, from l to r, are Paul Lacy, Bill Kipp, Clarence Boone and Sylvia Showalter. Committee member Joe Mays was not present.

The committee takes complaints; is responsible for investigating those complaints; and investigates if it learns of violations, with or without formal complaints.

The committee does not address disciplinary and policy violations.

The ethics violations are limited to what’s outlined in the board Code of Ethics, which include disclosures of personal interests in voting and non-voting issues, accepting gifts or items of value, undue influence and ethics complaints.

Charter school committee

For the charter school committee, community member and pastor Wayne Smith and Madison County Finance Director Karen Bell were added to the 12 JMCSS district-level administrators already named by Superintendent Marlon King.

In December, Johnson said board member Janice Hampton would also be on that committee as she’s the longest-serving current board member and was on the board when the district received applications in the past.

Hampton is not listed for the charter school committee that includes:

  • Smith

  • Bell

  • Vivian Williams, deputy superintendent of academics, students and schools

  • Ricky Catlett, deputy superintendent of operations, business and communication.

  • Bryan Chandler, chief operations officer responsible for maintenance, buildings and technology

  • Kippi Jordan, chief academic officer for elementary grades

  • Tiffany Spight, chief academic officer for secondary grades

  • Melissa Spurgeon, director of external affairs

  • Greg Hammond, chief of staff and public information

  • Diane Hicks Watkins, interim director for human resources

  • Shalonda Franklin, chief of social and behavioral services

  • Catherine Korth, leader of assessment and accountability

  • Frenchie Fuller, federal programs consulting teacher

  • Tim Gilmer, chief support service officer in charge of transportation, food service, safety and athletics

Deputy Superintendent of Academics, Students, and Schools Vivian C. Williams, attends the JMC School Board of Education meeting at Liberty High School in there auditorium to practice social-distancing in Jackson, Tenn., Monday, Aug. 10, 2020.
Deputy Superintendent of Academics, Students, and Schools Vivian C. Williams, attends the JMC School Board of Education meeting at Liberty High School in there auditorium to practice social-distancing in Jackson, Tenn., Monday, Aug. 10, 2020.

The charter school applications are due on Feb. 1, in which JMCSS would have 90 days to review and make a recommendation, according to Williams.

“There are four areas that we will have to evaluate, and those are academics, operations and facilities, finance and prior performance,” Williams said.

Policy changes

Summer programs

Based on board policy, superintendent Marlon King must recommend a plan for summer programs each year. The updated policy adds a timeframe – no later than the May board meeting – for that.

Who the state considers priority students “could” be required to attend those summer programs.

The Tennessee Department of Education identified priority students in Jan. 2021 as part of the Tennessee Learning Loss Remediation and Student Acceleration Act that addresses learning loss caused by the pandemic.

High school students can get two credits from summer school unless they have three unexcused absences.

Advanced courses

The enrollment policy for advanced courses was updated with requirements for each type of course. For example, each JMCSS principal will determine test score and grade requirements for honors courses.

Gibson Connect donates money for classroom school supplies

The nonprofit Gibson Connect, a part of the Gibson Electric Membership Corporation, donated $250 to help JMCSS teachers who “often spend their own money to help their students with classroom supplies,” Gibson Connect said in a letter to the district.

Five teachers will receive $50 donations for registering for a Gibson Connect internet service by Sept. 2021.

Those teachers are North Side High School’s Ken Northcut and Robert Maxwell and Thelma Barker Elementary School’s Brittany Brown, Lacy Porch and Hayley Walker.

“We’re hoping this is a real help to our teachers as they begin the new school year,” Dawn Jewell, Gibson Connect’s telecommunications assistant, said in the letter.

School Board Appreciation Week

In a joint proclamation, Madison County Mayor Jimmy Harris and City of Jackson Mayor Scott Conger declared Jan. 23-29 School Board Appreciation Week to encourage the JMC community to recognize the work of the board.

“I would like to say thank y’all for your service to the community and your willingness to go out to and campaign for an office to serve our kids,” Harris told the board. “We appreciate your commitment to the kids of our community because y’all are having a hand in the future of our community.”

Harris commended King for his transparency and Johnson for the civil way he’s ran meetings over the last year.

Leadership is never easy but even harder and thankless when serving children, Conger added.

The JMCSS board deserves recognition for the “countless hours and service to public education in Madison County,” the proclamation said.

In other news

Insurance reimbursed JMCSS for nearly $4,000, including $3,533.68 for repairs caused by water damage at South Side High and $369.96 for grounds equipment that was stolen from central office on September 27.

Lasherica Thornton is The Jackson Sun's education reporter. Reach her at 731-343-9133 or by email at lthornton@jacksonsun.com. Follow her on Twitter: @LashericaT

This article originally appeared on Jackson Sun: Jan. 2022 boardroom bits: JMCSS appoints ethics, charter school committees

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