SW board votes to rehire principal

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Meeting in special session on Feb. 22, the Southwest R-V School Board reversed an earlier decision and voted to renew Judy Randall's contract as elementary principal.

The board voted 4-1 in favor of renewing Randall's contract. Danny Dalton, Angie Corn, Robert Shockley and Robert Catron voted in favor of the measure, Judy Friend voted against it, and Jane Hobbs and Janet Ballard abstained from the vote.

In previous action on Feb. 9, R-V School Board members failed to renew Randall's contract by a split 3-3 vote. Dalton, Shockley and Catron voted in favor of renewing the principal's contract, and Corn, Friend and Ballard voted against it. Hobbs was forced to abstain because she is related to Randall, who has served the R-V District for the past 18 years.

In other action, the board voted to accept the resignation of Superintendent Richard Asbill. "I'm as close to Richard Asbill as anyone and this community and this board need to accept the resignation and let him get on with his life and wish him well," said Vicki Enyart, high school principal. "Let the man go and for God's sake get on with the business of educating our children."

The motion to accept Asbill's resignation carried by a 4-3 vote. Shockley, Friend, Ballard and Corn voted in favor of the motion, and Hobbs, Catron and Dalton voted against it.

At a meeting on Jan. 18, the board voted against accepting Asbill's resignation, which he submitted on Jan. 12. At the Jan. 18 meeting, Dalton, Hobbs, Catron and Shockley voted against accepting the resignation and Ballard, Friend and Corn voted in favor of it.

In addition to taking action on two personnel items at last Wednesday's meeting, the board voted to allow time for public comment. Ballard objected to adding a public comment item to the meeting agenda.

"I don't think this is fair," said Ballard. "If you are going to hold a public forum, you need to publicize it so the public can attend."

"It looks like the public is here to me," commented one observer.

The motion to allow public comment passed by a vote of 6-1. Dalton, Friend, Corn, Hobbs, Shockley and Catron voted in favor of the measure and Ballard voted against it.

District patrons packed the Southwest High School commons area for the meeting. A large number of patrons spoke on Randall's behalf and also voiced their support of the district's other administrators, including Asbill and Vicki Enyart, high school principal.

Janice Murphy, a member of the R-V faculty, thanked the board for renewing Randall's contract.

"You've done the right thing," said Murphy. "Judy has held us together. We're a family. I appreciate the community being here and the board for reconsidering the issue."

"What was done to Judy was wrong, what was done tonight was right," added Joanie Day. "I'm glad to see everyone here together, and I hope we can stay together."

Joann Wright, another district patron, added her passionate support for Randall's dedication to her job as elementary principal.

"You may not have to agree or even like Judy Randall, but you have to respect the job she's done," said Wright. "She's made her life in this community in support of this school. We need to focus on the improvement that's been made. We need to look at what Judy Randall, Vicki Enyart, Ben Abramovitz and Mr. Asbill have brought to the table and the improvement they've brought to the school."

Several community members asked whether or not the administrators had received copies of their evaluations.

"It's in the process," Ballard said.

In response to questions about the evaluation process, Friend said she was never allowed an opportunity to provide input prior to the evaluations, which were presented at the Feb. 9 board meeting.

"I would have loved to have had that opportunity," said Friend. "They (the evaluations) were done and then we were asked our opinion."

Judy Brooks, secretary to the superintendent, said letters were sent to each board member asking for their input on the administrators' evaluations.

"No one responded," said Brooks.

Several district patrons also spoke about the dedication of Enyart in her role as high school principal.

"I have never seen as dedicated a principal," said Kristy Tate. "If you have a problem with her, you might as well give it up, because we're not going to let her go."

Melissa Burchfield, the parent of a former SWHS student, also warned the board that their votes against renewing Enyart's contract sent mixed messages to the student body.

"Vicki is a wonderful lady; she cares," said Burchfield. "These kids love her and respect her, and what you're doing to destroy Vicki in front of them is hurting them. They want you to show her respect. Vicki is more dedicated than 99 percent of us in this room."

A few people in attendance at the meeting took issue with recent articles and editorials published in the Cassville Democrat.

Both Rhonda and Bill Baxley stated their displeasure with the county-seat newspaper. The Baxleys are district patrons and parents of Friend, a member of the R-V Board.

"I am disappointed in our county paper for throwing gasoline on a grass fire," Rhonda Baxley said. She said she believed the newspaper exaggerated the split in the board even though members made several unanimous decisions at the Feb. 9 board meeting.

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