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BOE approves reassignments

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

The Chilton County Board of Education approved several reassignments during a special called meeting on June 11, including moving Jemison High PE teacher Van Clements to PE teacher at Jemison Intermediate.

Clements is also the JHS football coach.

The reassignment was recommended by Superintendent Jason Griffin.

The motion was approved 5 to 2 with Board President Brian Jackson, Vice President Jacqueline Sullivan and board members Chris Smith, Pam Price and Angie Sanderson voting in favor. Board members Lori Patterson and Keith Moore voted against.

At the start of the meeting, Clements presented the reasons why he would like to remain at Jemison High.

Jackson had asked if Clements wanted the employee conference to be public, and Clements said yes.

“This is being recommended against (Principal) Ms. (Diane) Calloway’s wishes,” Clements said. “I do believe if the board starts voting against principals it will be opening up a can of worms that it cannot close.”

Clements told of his long history with the Jemison High football program, beginning with watching games as a child and a desire to be a part of the team. He started as a water boy.

He said Jemison High is where he had always wanted to work.

“I’m the right guy for Jemison High School,” Clements said. “I believe that with all of my heart … I have the support of the community, contrary to the belief of a handful of people who think they speak for the community.”

Clements highlighted how he had taken a program that was $10,000 in debt and got it to operating “in the black” while making improvements to the weight room and new jerseys.

“I may not have a biological son, but I have 63 (sons) this year,” Clements said. “I have more than that, these are just the ones that are still in school. I have 63 on the football team that I would step in front of a bullet for. If you make this move now, these 63 are the ones that suffer.”

Clements said football coaches can do so much to train a team during the summer now and changing the coach now could hurt the team.

The meeting room was filled to capacity with many Jemison football players, team staff and community members in attendance. The room broke out in applause in response to Clements speech.

A visitor who had asked to speak on the same topic was also on the agenda. However, this portion was held in executive session, meaning the public was asked to leave the room, at the recommendation of the school board attorney saying it dealt with “good name and character.”

Reasons for the recommended transfer were not discussed during the meeting. As names of those being voted on are kept out of the public discussion until approved, audience members were not 100% certain which vote was the Clement’s motion until the Personnel Actions sheet with names was handed out after the meeting.

Immediately following the closing of the voting session, some audience members expressed their displeasure at the situation. Those who questioned why Clements was being reassigned were given the option to call the board president to discuss the issue. (Phone numbers for all of the school board members are available under the “Board Members” tab at http://chiltoncs.schoolinsites.com.)

Many players and community members remained after the meeting with some making their anger known. The board remained to hear complaints. Emotions were high and a few students were in tears. At one point, a Jemison staff member returned and asked the players to come outside.

In an interview after the meeting, Griffin confirmed he made the recommendation, but Calloway would make a coach recommendation to fill the role.

“The principal has the discretion to recommend coaching supplements,” Griffin said. “The principal will make a recommendation for a football coach.”

Griffin said there are schools in the county that have coaches who are teachers at other schools in the district.

Recommendation for the PE teacher position at Jemison High School is expected in the near future.

All other reassignments were approved unanimously. These included moving Jemison Intermediate PE teacher Anthony Roshon to Jemison Middle School, custodian Fred Justice from Clanton Elementary to Jemison High, speech personnel Heather Tornatore to Jemison Intermediate, teacher Needra Henderson from Clanton Elementary to Thorsby High, PE teacher Jeremy White from Verbena High to Maplesville High, special education paraprofessional Taylor

Hawkins from PASS Academy to Clanton Intermediate and Stephen Chastain from a mechanic to a bus driver.

The board also approved:

  • Hiring a teacher for Clanton Intermediate, a social science teacher for VHS, an English teacher for Jemison Middle, an elementary school teacher for THS and a science teacher for Isabella High School.
  • Three teachers for the summer driver education program were also approved.
  • Resignations from Justin Veazey at CMS and Lara Patterson at JHS were accepted.
  • Retirements were accepted for CCHS math teacher Donald Hand and Larry Reeser.
  • Hiring a consultant to conduct an investigation in light of potential litigation. The issue was discussed in executive session, and the public was called back in for the vote.
  • Continuing to use School in Sites for the school websites. Ashlie Harrison, director of the Department of Teaching and learning said the $9,600 was cost this year was because it was being paid in one sum rather than each school paying for it individually.

The next meeting of the BOE will be on June 25 at 6 p.m. at Maplesville High School.