School board to meet in auditorium May 28

Published 7:30 pm Wednesday, May 15, 2013

     During a called meeting of the Brookhaven School District Board of Trustees Tuesday evening, board members voted to move the May 28 meeting of the school board from the Central Office to the Brookhaven High School auditorium, officials said.

     The move to a larger venue comes as detractors of Superintendent Lisa Karmacharya have planned to pack the meeting and criticize her leadership.

     Pat Lowery made the motion to move the May 28 meeting, with Stan Patrick offering a second, said secretary to the superintendent, Tasha Douglas, reviewing notes from Tuesday’s called meeting.

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     When contacted Wednesday, Lowery didn’t recall making the motion but said he could have. He said a request by a scheduled speaker that night prompted the discussion, which was initiated by Willie Harrison, current board president.

     “We wanted to accommodate that,” Lowery said.

     All members present voted to back the move, with Dan Brown absent, Douglas said.

     Tuesday’s meeting was held to consider a student matter, a fairly routine occurrence for the school board.

     Graffiti that appeared near the school district’s Central Office last week prompted some of the superintendent’s critics to discuss their plans for the May 28 meeting.

     Rita Rich, a retired principal from the Brookhaven district, has called for Karmacharya’s ouster.

     Documents released through a public records request show that David Culpepper, a district parent, and Rich both filed an application to address the board at the May 28 meeting.

     On her application to speak, Rich wrote that she will address, “the decline of the district in the academics (as evidenced by test scores and graduation rate)” and the “morale of the staff (staff leaving).”

     Culpepper has since said he will not speak that night and has withdrawn his request, Douglas said.

     Culpepper’s application to speak to the board was not as detailed as Rich’s. He wrote that he planned to speak about “concerns for BSD and moving forward” and indicated plans to provide a more detailed list of topics at a later date.

     Following the graffiti incident last week, Suzanne Britt also discussed her efforts to rally a crowd to attend the May 28 meeting.

     Britt and Rich both praised the person behind the graffiti, which was placed in the yard of a private residence without knowledge of permission of the property owner.

     Despite rumors that security footage from the Technical Center showed who placed the sign, district officials reported that the Technical Center has no security camera in the vicinity of where the sign was placed.

     Though some fresh faces have joined the public push against Karmacharya, she has drawn steady criticism from some in the black community, including the Rev. Larry Jointer and the Lincoln County Ministerial Alliance.

     Britt said last week that Jointer, Rich and Culpepper had organized a private meeting of concerned parents, but it’s unclear how closely aligned the criticism of Rich and others will be with Jointer.

     For his part, Jointer has charged that Karmacharya has not adequately promoted or hired black personnel.