Group levels criticism at school board

Published 7:00 pm Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ongoing tensions between the Brookhaven School District administration and some leaders of the black community once again flared into sight Tuesday evening with one of the district’s most persistent detractors launching some of his most strident criticism yet.

Joined by a number of fellow ministers, most dressed in dark suits and red ties, and backed by a packed room, the Rev. Larry Jointer, of St. James Missionary Baptist Church, reiterated concerns about the district’s hiring and promotion practices and ratio of black to white teachers.

Particularly, Jointer suggested, as he has in the past, that Superintendent Lisa Karmacharya tends to hire administrators from outside the Brookhaven area rather than promote black employees already in the district.

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Reading from prepared remarks, Jointer additionally questioned the district’s money management, particularly the hiring of outside consultants, the construction of a new baseball field house and purchasing of new testing materials.

“Can anyone tell use how much has been spent on all these special projects?” Jointer asked.

Jointer contrasted these expenditures with plans to discontinue the use of the Fannie Mullins building as the home of the district’s alternative program, a move billed as a means to cut costs.

Though he seems to believe Karmacharya responsible for these decisions, Jointer ultimately directed his remarks to the board.

“We do not hold the superintendent accountable,” Jointer said, pointing toward board members. “We’re holding you accountable.”

Jointer appeared before the Brookhaven School Board during the portion of the meeting set aside for public comment and said he spoke as a representative of the Lincoln County Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance.

Many members of the alliance were present Tuesday evening for Jointer’s remarks.

Neither Karmacharya nor board members responded to Jointer, though the superintendent rose from her seat during the reverend’s remarks to confer with the board’s attorney, Bob Allen.

Willie Harrison, serving a rotation as the board’s president, told Jointer the board would take his remarks under advisement.

That’s the response Jointer’s received as each of his prior appearances before the board, and he’s now expecting more.

“We will only wait 14 days for a response,” he told board trustees.

Speaking after the meeting, Jointer elaborated on what will happen if he doesn’t receive such a response.

“The alliance is organized,” Jointer said, speaking of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance. “We are very organized and prepared to make some other decisions to move forward concerning the issues we addressed.”

Jointer wouldn’t elaborate too deeply as to what steps the organization might take.

“One thing, we’ll get the community more involved with it,” Jointer said, declining to provide more details.

He did provide details as to the sort of response he would consider acceptable from the board.

“(That) they have taken care of these issues (and) talked in our presence with the superintendent, and the superintendent in our presence admits there’s been some problems,” Jointer said. “We just want her to be fair.”

Despite the critical tenor of his remarks, Jointer did express some optimism.

Said the reverend, “We are very hopeful this will be reconciled.”