School board vote to evaluate superintendent falls short by one vote

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Nathan Wilson | Reporter
Board member Billy Benefield Jr. introduced a measure May 10 to conduct an interim evaluation of their satisfaction with Superintendent Dr. Grant Eloi. He pitched the idea as an opportunity for the board to have a conversation about the direction of the district. “As a board we have one employee. Why would we not want to sit down and have an open dialogue,” he said. “Why would we want to wait an entire year to do something?”
Board members Rhonda Guidroz and Dorothy McGaskey added their voices to the impetus.
“This is similar to what we’re doing in the schools. We don’t wait until after the LEAP Test to do our evaluations,” Guidroz said. “We hired him and it’s our job to let him know what the community is seeing and what we’re seeing.”
McGaskey added, “I don’t see this as an official evaluation, but as an opportunity to sit down and address some concerns with the superintendent that we might feel more comfortable.”

Dr. Grant Eloi
NP School Superintendent

Board President Reba Phelps and member Beverly Broadway voiced skepticism of the need for an interim evaluation.
“I’ve been in several different positions and I’ve never had more than one evaluation per year,” said Broadway. “I feel very comfortable approaching Dr. Eloi at any time when I have questions or concerns and he has never once told me he does not have time.”
This article published in the May 14, 2022, print edition.

“I feel like we just had an evaluation; was it November, December of this past year? So it really, truly hasn’t been six months,” said Phelps. “The reason we did an interim evaluation last year is because we were in the middle of Covid, and we just needed to check up.”
Board members Eugean Garner and Tan’Keia Palmer expressed ambivalence.
“I’ve heard some of your concerns here spoken over the last couple months and I feel like if you all would go to him, he would do his very best to work some of those issues out,” Garner said. “(I’m) not so much against the evaluation, but I think some of this could be handled in his office, one-on-one with whoever has the concerns.”
Palmer expressed hesitancy over identifying the discussion as an evaluation. “I do not want to go into executive session about an evaluation. I want to do that at evaluation time, but I don’t mind going to discuss the issues,” she said. She later clarified. “For me, if it was worded differently, I would go into executive session.”
Garner, Broadway, Palmer and Phelps voted against going into executive session killing the motion, which would have required a two-thirds majority. The board members who voted yes agreed to meet privately with Eloi after the meeting to discuss concerns.