Halifax school board to reinstate fired superintendent

Posted October 6, 2015 3:40 p.m. EDT
Updated October 6, 2015 7:39 p.m. EDT

— The Halifax County Board of Education will meet Thursday to rescind a dubious Monday night vote by three members to fire Superintendent Dr. Elease Frederick.

With two members absent Monday, and after two other members had left the closed-door meeting. the three remaining members of the school board unexpectedly voted to oust Frederick, who has headed the district since 2009. Board member Charles Hedgepeth said her contract was never approved by the board.

The board and Frederick have butted heads for years over how to turn around the district's failing schools. State education officials, who have been working with the district for six years to boost student achievement, have been firmly in Frederick's corner during that time.

In August, the State Board of Education took control of the district's finances and personnel responsibilties, and ordered that no personnel changes should be made without prior state approval. State Board Chairman Bill Cobey at the time cited "irresponsible decisions" by the Halifax County board, and state Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson called the board "dysfunctional" and said it posed an obstacle to improvement.

The Halifax County board didn't seek or receive state permission to fire Frederick, Atkinson said Tuesday.

"What happened in Halifax County yesterday did not follow that procedure, so we know that the Halifax County board will have to reconsider what it has done because it did not follow what we had asked them to do," she said.

The firing also is suspect because of questions over a quorum at Monday's meeting. A minority of the board – three of seven members – cannot take a binding vote to fire someone, officials said.