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Superintendent's evaluation cancelled

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New board could decide to evaluate him next year

By Stevie Lowery

A mid-year evaluation of Marion County Superintendent Donald Smith, which was scheduled for this past Monday, was cancelled after a majority of the school board decided it would be best to delay his evaluation until the newly-elected board convenes in January.

But, according to Superintendent Smith, no matter who conducts his evaluation, he is in a "no-win situation."

"I have nothing to hide," Smith said during the school board's meeting Tuesday of last week. "But I'm going to share this with you publicly... I will not sit there and take the abuse like I did the first year with a bunch of lies and innuendos. I'm just going to tell you that. I will not."

Smith went on to suggest that the newly elected board members, Ed Hacker, Michael Mullins and Mike Cecil, have their own "hidden agendas."

"I'm not even worried about it because people coming on already have they own hidden agendas and what they want," he said. "I'm not going to deal with it."

Hacker, Mullins and Cecil will join DeLane Pinkston and Bernard Miles, both current and long-standing members of the board, when they are sworn-in in January.

According to Smith, he expects the new board members to evaluate him based on the goals and standards that the current board has set for him, which he believes he has "knocked out of the park." He said he will not participate in "he said/she said" discussions.

"If you come in here with he say/she say stuff, I'm telling you right now... I will not take it this year," he said. "I took it last year. I'm not taking it this year. I don't deserve it."

Miles said he was in favor of the current board members conducting Smith's evaluation because they set his goals in the first place. But, Pinkston said the new board members could give a new perspective.

"They can give community perspective of what's taken place out in the community and what people are thinking about what we are doing," Pinkston said.

However, Miles said, often times, the community doesn't understand and "don't get the whole picture."

"But they are the people who elect us and they are the people that are judging us on what we are doing with the school system," Pinkston said, responding to Miles.

Board Chairwoman Carlew said the superintendent's evaluation should be focused on the goals that have been set for him.

"I think that together we set the goals and I think in fairness to the superintendent we need not look at the goals and standards that we set and be sure that is what we are evaluating him on," she said. "If there are other areas that we are hearing that we feel should also be addressed, in fairness we just need to make him aware of that."

Carlew voiced her concerns that doing the evaluation now might be a bit premature, stating that Smith's goals were set for 12 months and they were only six months into the academic year. However, Miles said mid-term evaluations have a specific and valuable purpose.

"I think the reason we put that midterm evaluation there is we wanted to see how things were going," he said. "Why wait a year if you see things aren't going as they should? Then we can do some corrective work right there at the midterm instead of waiting six more months down the road. You can fix a lot of things if you catch it in time versus letting it go."

Miles was the only board member to vote against canceling the evaluation. Later on in the meeting, he made a motion to schedule the evaluation for Monday afternoon during a special called meeting that was scheduled to address matters related to the Marion County Area Technology Center addition/renovation project. However, no one seconded his motion and it failed.

Board member Alex Ackermann asked if the new board would be doing Smith's evaluation when they take office in January. Miles said it would be up to the board.

"If they so choose, but I can't speak for the entire board. I can only speak for myself," he said.

Superintendent Smith said the only thing the new board could do is reset the goals and standards and "move a different way."

"I'm just telling you, I'm going to do what I've been always doing. Bottom line," he said. "I'm going to do what I've always done... They can't evaluate me, they hadn't even seen anything we do unless they base it on he say/she say... I'm just telling you people, I'm not going to do it. I'm not putting up with that anymore."

Miles interjected.

"Mr. Smith, I hate to interrupt you, but, if the board so chooses to do that, they have that right," he said. "Maybe you can say I'm not going to participate, but that would be your choice. But, I don't think that would go over too good."

Smith responded.

"And you're right, and I would choose not to," he said.

Smith's comments 

"For me, and I'll be honest with you, I'm in a no-win situation. Same thing happened when Brad came on. And ya'll know, and I chose, we could have done it in private but I chose to do it in public. I have nothing to hide. But I'm going to share this with you publicly, with TV and everything, I will not sit there and take the abuse like I did the first year with a bunch of lies and innuendos. I'm just going to tell you that. I will not. I'm just telling you right now, and that why I agreed to... I'm not even worried about it because people come on already have they own hidden agendas and what they want. I'm not going to deal with it. I will not. You know what's going on. You've been here long enough. You know the truth. You know the things that happened. I'm just telling you right now... that's why I wanted it public. I will not take it. I took it last year. I took the high road. But this year I'm not going to take a bunch of lies and innuendos. I'm just telling you right now. So, when you're making your decision, based on everything that is happening on the goals that they've set for me, and I guarantee you, I guarantee you, we've knocked them out the park. But if you come in here with he say/she say stuff, I'm telling you right now, I will not. You can put that in the paper, on the record, I will not take it this year. I took it last year. I'm not taking it this year. I don't deserve it."

Later on in the meeting...

"The only thing they would so choose to do is reset the goals and standards and move a different way. I'm just telling you, I'm going to do what I've been always doing. Bottom line. I'm going to do what I've always done... They can't evaluate me, they hadn't even seen anything we do unless they base it on the he say/she say... I'm just telling you people, I'm not going to do it. I'm not putting up with that anymore."