By Carolyn Roy, Carolyn@natchitochestimes.com
The school board voted 6-4 to terminate a 15-year employee because she allegedly violated a confidentiality agreement she signed by giving her password to JCampus another employee. The action took place at the school board meeting Thursday. The employee, Krystal Williams, chose to discuss the recommendation to terminate her in an open meeting rather than in a closed session. Williams, a school secretary at Fairview Alpha, was represented by James R. Bullman and the school board was represented by Elmer Noah of Hammond, Sills, Adkins & Guice Law Firm. T
he recommendation to terminate Williams resulted from allegations that she gave her password to JCampus and it was used 51 times in less than a month by someone other than Williams. JCampus is a secured website that contains confidential information about students at the school such as Social Security numbers and whether they are Special Ed students. Supt. Dale Skinner said it contained “everything about a student.” Skinner said he stopped counting the violations after they reached 51. Skinner said that personnel receive training on the importance and use of the passwords and sign confidentiality agreements stating they can be disciplined for violations.
It is a State and Federal requirement for employees and the school board is liable if confidentiality is breached. Bullman cited that Williams had no prior complaints in 15 years as an employee and asked for more proof than “one page of notebook paper.” Shari Rogers, cafeteria manager at Fairview, presented a page of notebook paper to the school board that contained the password that she said Williams had given her so she could enter lunchroom information reports.
Rogers said she entered the reports twice a day. Bullman asked if the board wanted to “ruin her life over a little thing.” Williams maintained throughout the hearing that she did not give the password to Rogers. It surfaced during the hearing that Williams had been in another executive session Dec. 6 about another matter. Fairview Alpha principal Brooke Williams said she spent three weeks “throwing away things she had not filed” while Krystal Williams was on paid leave.
Williams and Assistant Principal Marsha Daugherty said they several other faculty members did not want Williams back at the school. Some of the school board members siding with Crystal Williams said they felt termination was too harsh and advocated suspension without pay. Yet others said, in their occupations, such as banking, that a breach of confidentiality was a serious matter. They felt Williams was held to a higher standard because of her position and in private industry she would be terminated.
Noah said, “A confidentiality agreement can’t be any clearer,” and that employees who signed them knew the terms. He said the only way Rogers could have gotten the password was if Williams had given it to her. Skinner asked those board member supporting Williams what he would do the next time an employee violated the confidentiality agreements. Voting to terminate Williams were Reba Phelps, Beverly Broadway, Rhonda Guidroz, Billy Benefield Jr., Russ Danzy an Eugean Garner. Voting against termination were Steven Harris, Katrina Willis, Dorothy McGaskey and Tan’Keia Palmer. Emile Metoyer abstained.
In other business, Natchitoches Parish School Board employees will get an extra check in February. Certified personnel will get $583 from the State Minimum Foundation Program and support personnel will get $300. Support personnel originally were scheduled to get $250 but the school board upped that amount to $300. It will cost the board $9,250 from the general fund. The motion was unanimously approved.
There was a lengthy discussion on whether to allot tax money in the Cloutierville district to Provencal and City schools. Russ Danzy, board member from the Provencal district, has emphasized the need for the Provencal School to get a proportionate share of about $400,000 that remain in the maintenance tax fund after the Cloutierville school was closed last year. Danzy says that Provencal school is out of room since 90 of the 125 students at Cloutierville now attend Provencal. The remaining students attend city schools. The Provencal voters approved a $3 million bond issue three years ago to build a new gym and additional classrooms. Danzy wants to expand the new addition to accommodate the increased enrollment. With the completion of the addition, the school was able to remove portable buildings.
One issue preventing movement of the money was raised by Cloutierville board member Emile Metoyer who said he wanted it in writing that the board could legally move the tax money to another district. The school board attorneys said in an email “…the Board has absolute discretion in budgetary matters. If the Board chooses to shift funds allocated to an occupied property, it is free to do so. Please understand that the Board should take at least minimal steps to upkeep and safeguard the unused property.”
With that hurdle cleared, Metoyer proposed yet another delay to transferring the money by saying he thought Danzy wanted the money for supplies and not for construction. Metoyer wants Skinner to investigate the reopening the Cloutierville school to accommodate grades Pre-K through fifth grades.
He said some of the younger children in the southern part of the parish ride one and one-half hours each way to reach the city schools. He wants to find out how much it would cost to remodel the school and how many students are in the district by having a meeting of the residents. Metoyer said there are new students in that district resulting from new subdivisions.