Council will issue resolution today

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – A resolution calling for top Tupelo Public School District officials to step down will be read at today’s City Council meeting.

Council members drafted the document this morning after hatching the idea Monday. City attorney John Hill is finalizing it for the 6 p.m. meeting at City Hall.

The resolution calls for the resignations of TPSD Superintendent Randy Shaver and Assistant Superintendent Fred Hill. It also expresses displeasure at the recent actions of the TPSD Board of Trustees, though it doesn’t specifically cite the actions to which it refers.

“We’ve tried to reach out to the school board, and they seem to be reluctant to be transparent and make themselves available to the taxpayers,” Ward 1 Councilman Markel Whittington told the Daily Journal today.

Most council members say the TPSD administration has failed to identify and correct issues in the schools that, over time, have led to the decline of Tupelo’s middle class.

The city has a $15.7 million plan to fix its own problems – code violations, older housing stock, stalled construction – but council members won’t adopt the plan until the school district cooperates.

Shaver told the Daily Journal on Monday that he’s “disappointed that one of my recent personnel decisions has become a politically-hyped issue in our community. That is not in the best interest of educating our children, which is always my primary concern.”

Shaver last week recommended that Tupelo High School Principal Lee Stratton be reassigned to another school to make way for a new high school principal, Chris Barnes.

Barnes was hired from a school district in North Carolina and had previously worked with Shaver.

A rally in support of Stratton also is scheduled today. It starts at the district’s administrative offices at 5 p.m. and ends with a march to City Hall.

Some of the principal’s supporters also plan to speak at the council meeting.