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|Monroe City School Board hires Dupree — again|
Four months after the Monroe City School Board refused to renew Dr. James Dupree's contract as superintendent, the city school board agreed to have Dupree remain on the job after his current contract expires Sept. 30.
In a 4-3 vote during Tuesday's regular meeting, the school board approved the hiring of Dupree effective midnight, Oct. 1, or the moment his existing contract with the city school system expires.
School board member Brenda Shelling made the motion to hire Dupree after the board listened to a presentation on four individuals who were interested taking Dupree's place as superintendent.
The individuals applied for the superintendent position had been selected after a volunteer search committee spent more than 700 hours and $28,000 reviewing resumes, conducting interviews and paying for candidates to fly to Monroe to interview for the superintendent post.
"When we initially started out with this process, I voted not to renew the superintendents contract," said Shelling. "I had voted not to renew his contract because I had experienced negative communication."
Since that time, Dupree has made strides to correct his errors in communicating with members of the school board and others, according to Shelling.
Shelling also cited leaks to the media and intimidation and attempts to "manipulate the process" of selecting a new superintendent as part of the reason she changed her mind.
"My first and initial position was this process be positive and above board," Shelling said. "No tampering, no interference."
Following the vote to hire Dupree, at least one parent of a Monroe city schools student was unhappy with the school board's decision.
Annie Jopling told board members she was disappointed and suggested to Shelling that intimidation and conducting meetings in private, which the volunteer search committee was accused of doing, were no reason to change a vote.
Shelling took offense at the suggestion her vote was influenced in backroom meetings.
"I don't take a bribe and I don't give a bribe," Shelling told Jopling. "So, Ms. Jopling, I'd like your apology."
The meeting was marked by high-spirited applause and frequent interruptions from catcalls and naysayers. More than once, school board president Vicky Dayton was forced to call the meeting to order.
Prior to the vote on Shelling's motion, board member Stephanie Smith dismissed a suggestion by colleagues that Dupree would have a hard time working with the board since the board originally decided to let him go.
Instead, Smith offered her own explanation of Dupree's tenacity for a new contract.
"That's the kind of man we're dealing with, who never once said I'm not your superintendent…it's your problem now," Smith said.
Following the meeting, Dupree's supporters gathered to offer their congratulations.
Dupree said he was not concerned about the division among board members.
"We'll pull the divided board together," Dupree said. "A great deal of responsibility is in the hands of the board leadership in the form of the president. We'll get together and work out how best to do that."
Also during the meeting Tuesday, board members were scheduled to consider a motion to censure another member of the board.
However, board member Rodney McFarland, who proposed the censure motion, said it was improperly worded and should be removed from the agenda for the school board meeting.
McFarland said he never intended his motion to be about the censure of a board member. Instead, McFarland said his proposal was intended to give members of the school board the authority to censure a member of the board.
Board member Mickey Traweek agreed with McFarland's assessment and said McFarland "never intended to censure Miss (Vicki) Krutzer."
Krutzer took offense that her name was brought up. She said she was prepared for the move to censure her.
Earlier in the afternoon Tuesday, Krutzer petitioned 4th Judicial District Court Judge Ben Jones for a restraining order against censure because, according to Krutzer, no policy existed to censure her.
McFarland agreed. He said it was never his intention for his motion to entail a censure. McFarland again contended his motion was made to create such a policy for future use.
Both McFarland and Krutzer agreed the motion on the agenda was in error and the motion was withdrawn, with both Krutzer and McFarland talking about the need for unity and healing on the board.
Shelling had a different assessment of the exchange.
"When we start going and getting restraining orders, my God, we have a long way to go," Shelling said.
With the vote to hire Dupree complete, Dupree will negotiate a new contract with school board attorney Doug Lawrence, under the guidance of the board's executive committee.
That contract is expected to be presented for approval at a school board meeting in September.