Monthly school board meeting dominated by closed sessions

Dec. 11, 2012 @ 05:04 AM

The Lee County Board of Education has several controversial actions to contemplate in tonight's monthly meeting, but they will be discussed in closed session.

The first is the annual performance review of Superintendent Jeff Moss, who came under heavy criticism following a confrontation, some of which was captured on video and during which he allegedly used profanity, at a political debate in October.

In his tenure, Moss has instituted several programs focused around technology and aimed at reducing various achievement gaps. He has also overseen a rise in graduation rates and in the number of students taking Advanced Placement classes.

Moss did face some internal, public scrutiny from a group of school board members — Cameron Sharpe, Wendy Carlyle and Mark Akinosho — who demanded a special meeting about the October controversy. Board Chairman Lynn Smith declined to set a meeting unilaterally, and when the board voted on holding one, the action failed 4-3.

Moss said Monday he hasn't had any indications that board members will bring the incident up again, and that he hopes everything stays focused on how he has done guiding the schools.

"This is the formal performance review, so I'm looking forward to getting some constructive feedback from each of the seven board members," he said.

Smith said the results of the review won't be published, since they're considered personnel records, and that as such, he couldn't talk about what he planned to note in Moss' review or what other members might do.

His contract with the district lasts until June 2015, Smith said, adding that any action involving the contract has to be taken in open session.

In addition to tackling Moss, the board will also discuss standard personnel issues, which this month include a request from Southern Lee High School Principal Bonnie Almond to part ways with Tom Paris, the school's head football coach since 2010.

Paris went 10-24 in three seasons, including 2-9 last year, but he said Monday he was surprised when Almond told him he wouldn't be returning next year. If the board approves the decision, Almond will choose a new coach and present him or her to the board for approval.

The board's only action in open session will be to approve various reports and a consent agenda, plus the second reading of list of policy changes. Included in the consent agenda is a litany of new high school classes that would be offered if enough students show interest.