School Board to evaluate Superintendent’s performance

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By Carolyn Roy, carolyn@natchitohestimes.com

The school board can expect a kinder and gentler superintendent after Dale Skinner said he would no longer engage board members during meetings. Skinner’s remarks came at the board meeting Thursday. “From this point forward, at no time will I be involved in any discussion with the board to argue back and forth. I can’t control anybody but myself.” Skinner said that after the committee meeting Tuesday, several people who had confidence in him, said his conduct was not professional and was not what people wanted to see.

Skinner was talking about how he and board member Emile Metoyer argued after Metoyer put on an agenda item to discuss Skinner’s contract and evaluation in an executive session. There was a lengthy session with heated exchanges between the two. Skinner said that he had an open door policy but people who were the most critical did not approach him nor offer helpful suggestions. After several exchanges, Metoyer said he knew some of Skinner’s remarks were directed at him. “I’ve told you about problems but you never straighten them out.”

He also was critical that in the past the board had not required a two-thirds vote for an executive session. The discussion of Skinner’s contract was first reset for the May meeting. Metoyer then said he would yield to the suggestion of Director of Special Education Toni Bennett, who said that such a discussion would not be the right tone at the May meeting when the board will honor Students of the Year and Teachers of the Year. Bennett said that even if the executive session were to come at the end of the honors presentation, those at the meeting would still know the session was going to take place.

“It’s the elephant in the room. They will know it’s on the agenda,” Bennett said. Metoyer agreed to reschedule the discussion for the June meeting. “I yield to the ladies in the audience,” Metoyer said. “We can do it in June.” But it wasn’t that simple. Board president Rhonda Guidroz said there were guidelines for executive sessions to discuss the two items—-an evaluation and his contract and performance.

Skinner must be notified at least 24 hours before an executive session to discuss his contract and performance and there must be documented reasons for the discussion outlined in the notice. Guidroz advocated having the board’s attorney be present for an executive session. The board tentatively scheduled an executive session April 17 to discuss their evaluations of Skinner. There has not been evaluation since 2016. The board members’ meeting packets contained evaluation forms. They will also receive copies of Skinner’s contract. That date was chosen because the board will meet that day in a special called meeting to accept bids for several school maintenance projects. For either subject, there must be a two-thirds vote, or eight votes, to convene into the session. The discussion of Skinner’s performance could come at the June 6 meeting, possibly in an executive session. Skinner said he had nothing to hide and would call for an open meeting. “There won’t be an executive session if I have a say.”

Skinner’s contract expires May 31, 2020. After Metoyer and Skinner’s exchanges became heated, board member Beverly Broadway said the arguments had become personal and asked they remain professional.

The meeting was then adjourned.