by Max Brantley
I should have mentioned earlier that the Little Rock School Board will have a special meeting at 5 p.m. tonight at which Board President Katherine Mitchell will read a statement and then the board will go into executive session. It's to discuss items related to the superintendent's employment and litigation, a district news release says.
Jennifer Reed will be covering the meeting. I wish I could say that there might be a surprise -- a move to buy out Superintendent Roy Brooks' contract rather than what I fear, a continued effort to hold a speedy suspension hearing preparatory to firing him. The push toward firing only invites more litigation. But, if you believe what I'm hearing, the four-member majority is anxious to get Brooks out of the way to put a number of other personnel moves in play. That's bad news and not confidence-inspiring. Hope I'm wrong.
Rumors of the day on potential interim superintendents should the majority succeed in removing Brooks: Associate Superintendent for Elementary Education Sadie Mitchell and Linda Watson, director of student services.
UPDATE: I was wrong at least in part. Mitchell said she would not push for a suspension hearing in advance of the firing hearing May 30. She said that would allow for a "cooling off period" and for all in the district to focus on students in the final days of the school year. Mitchell's statement also referred to the recent court hearings. She said she would follow the law with "reference to notice and opportunity to be heard." She also said that she meant no intimidation in her letter to nine administrators notifying them of potential changes in assignment. She also noted that Brooks had sufficient notice of reasons for termination and that she would participate and vote her conscience at the May 30 termination hearing. The board then went into executive session for a matter said to be related to Brooks' employment and the litigation. The meeting was brief and no votes or explanations were taken afterward.
One regular board meeting will occur before the hiring on Brooks' firing, to be conducted by Little Rock lawyer Marie Miller. There's still time -- and gentle insistence from the community will be necessary -- to work out a retreat from hostilities and a negotiated path to Brooks' dignified departure from the district.