Little Rock School District superintendent candidate Dr. Walter Milton will take part in a "meet and greet" at 12:30 p.m. today in the district administration building at 810 W. Markham St. Milton is the fourth and final candidate the LRSD is interviewing for the job. After meeting with the public, Milton will meet for an hour with parents and PTA representatives, and following that he will have an hour with teachers and teachers' union reps.
While on paper the strongest, Milton is also the most controversial. He withdrew his application for a job with the Madison, Wis., school district after the school board there considered information about his background — including an audit that said he had been overpaid as superintendent at a New York school district — and announced he was "not a good fit." Members of the board here have also had some qualms.
Dr. Jim Ross, a professor of history at UALR, forwarded to the LRSD board on Sunday a petition asking it to remove Milton's name from consideration and to terminate the contract with the consulting firm that put his name forward.
Previous contact with the board has drawn no response, Ross writes. But board member Dr. Michael Nellums did respond:
I was raised in the African-American church and one of our core beliefs is "keeping the Sabbath Day holy."
Perhaps you didn't know that most African-American church people believe in that principle. I'm forwarding you an inspirational quote from Maya Angelou. I hope it resonates within your spirit. If you require additional reading, I would recommend 2 Corinthians 12, 7-10. Try the King James Version.
Dr. Michael Nellums
Ross' response begins:
I am extremely proud to have heard from you today. Thank you so much for the quote from Maya Angelou. I have spent the last 20 years reading her brilliant work and teaching it to my classes. I of course knew that today was the sabbath, and that Christians of all races respected it. I suspected that those who kept it would get to their emails tomorrow, but as I said I am glad you and I can speak today.
Meanwhile, the State Journal Register of Springfield, Ill., where Milton was superintendent of schools until his resignation a few weeks ago, reports that Milton has made thousands of dollars in independent contracts with other school districts through his company, From the Heart International.
Milton's contract with the Pulaski County Special School District has been reported; it's worth $90,000. The story says he's made eight visits to the district since Jan. 1 as part of his contract, all on Thursdays and Fridays; Milton says he used vacation time to make the trips. He also has a contract with the Youngstown, Ohio, district, where Connie Hathorn, another candidate for the LRSD job, is superintendent.