Smith rails on Linden BOE

Published 8:09 pm Friday, March 9, 2012

An outburst from Linden City Schools Superintendent Dr. Tyrone Smith at an LCBOE meeting Thursday night has sent ripples through the small community.

According to a witness that was in attendance at the meeting, Smith’s reaction came after the board sought to add an actionable item to the scant agenda.

In its initial form, the agenda included only the acceptance of the low bid of $151,200 from Charter Communications for internal connections at all schools.

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At the motion of board member Dr. Bobby Hopper and the second of Tamika Dial, the board sought to amend the agenda to include the discussion of a resolution that would request the Alabama State Department of Education intervene in the Linden City School System.

Eunice Jones, the board president, proved hesitant to accept the resolution, prompting explanation from Hopper.

“Dr. Hopper reached into his paperwork and pulled out either a fax or an e-mail from the state school board that said that if anything needed to be checked out, they needed to ask for intervention from the state,” the witness indicated. “Dr. Hopper asked that a vote be taken on whether or not to take the resolution. Mrs. Jones did not want to take the vote.”

What ensued from there was reportedly a rant from Smith that lasted some 30 minutes and saw the second-year superintendent object to the resolution while also verbally abusing four of the five board members.

“He told them they could not take a vote until he had his lawyer there,” the witness indicated. Additionally, Smith, who is also the principal at Linden Elementary School, allegedly called Hopper a racist, pinned the recent Linden Athletic Field controversy squarely on Linden High School principal Timothy Thurman and aired various accusations and dirty laundry on other board members before turning on LCS Chief Financial Officer LaKendra Raby, who had tendered her resignation at a previous meeting.

Smith, who was hired in July 2010 on a three-year contract worth $110,000 annually, reportedly punctuated his diatribe by demanding that the Linden City Board of Education buy out the remainder of his contract.

The aggression displayed during the verbal altercation prompted one member of the audience to send a text message to Linden Police Chief Scott McClure, informing him of the tense situation.

“It just got a little heated. Dr. Smith did not want them to pass a resolution,” McClure said. “It just got a little heated, so they asked me to come down there.”

After the dust settled, the board ultimately passed the resolution by a 4-1 margin with Jones standing as the lone “no” vote. The execution of the resolution will see that the state department of education does a financial and academic investigation of Linden City Schools. That process officially began Friday afternoon.

“At this point, we were advised not to make any comment until we talk with our attorney,” Dial said of the state BOE’s involvement before clarifying the nature of Friday afternoon’s engagement with representatives from the ALSDE. “It wasn’t a meeting, it was just an introduction of who we’ll be working with.”

The intervention process figures to be somewhat lengthy as the ALSDE will look into all pertinent aspects of the Linden City School System.

“We will be having a work session Thursday evening at 5 p.m. at the board of education office,” Dial indicated. “Notices will be sent out. All the things that need to be discussed will be brought there but no actions will be taken. The board meeting will follow Monday, March 26.”

The minutes from Thursday evening’s board meeting have not been approved by the LCBOE and, as such, are not yet public record. The account of the unnamed witness cited by The Demopolis Times was corroborated by others with knowledge of the meeting.