Clarksdale High School principal Herbert Smith has taken issue with his responsibilities and attempted to address the school board about the matter at Thursday’s meeting seeking help for his duties.
Smith addressed the matter during the Clarksdale Municipal School District board meeting’s public comments and was hoping to further discuss the matter in executive session. The board went into closed session after regular business was finished and briefly spoke with Smith, but if the matter does go into executive session, it will be a later meeting.
Smith said during public comments he had conversations with superintendent Dr. Earl Joe Nelson about everything, has documentation of emails and the most recent conversation was the Monday before the meeting. He said he thought the issue had been resolved, but later found out it was not.
Board president Delores Harris told Smith he should have backtracked and talked with Nelson.
“I have tried since last year Ms. Harris,” Smith replied. “Last year, I’ve got a letter that I wrote to the superintendent from September 2019. We’re not getting anywhere. I’m coming to you tonight. I’m asking you all for support. We’re not getting it. We are not getting it in the district. I am struggling here to run three buildings. I serve as the principal of three buildings. I’m struggling and I’m asking for you all’s support.”
Smith, who is in his second year as the CHS principal, was promoted just prior to Nelson’s tenure after serving as the JW Stampley 9th Grade Academy principal.
Smith now says he has supervisory duties at CHS, JW Stampley 9th Grade Academy and the Career Technical Education Center.
“I need some support,” Smith said.
After the meeting, board attorney Carlos Palmer said there are different policies depending on an employee’s position in the district on how to address the board in executive session.
“They would read the policies of the district,” Palmer said. “That’s online, on the website.”
Smith said in his remarks during public comments that he completed the necessary paperwork to address the board.
“So what are you saying? Are you saying you filed to be on the board meeting and didn’t get on?” asked board member Bishop Zedric Clayton.
“I’m not sure whether I got on or not,” replied Smith. “I signed up for public comments as a backup to make sure that I was. I’m not sure if I’m actually on there or not, but I have the paperwork with me.”
Nelson said Smith only filled out the form to speak during public comments.
“That is the form that Ms. Barbara Smith (Nelson’s administrative assistant) gave me,” Smith said. “I told her that I wanted to appear on the agenda to address you all tonight. That is the form she gave me last week to complete.”
Smith said he was not contacted by superintendent to speak with him after filling out the form to be on the agenda.
“In order for you to speak with us, you have to go through the superintendent,” Harris said. “And when he meets with the President, that would be added to the executive session to say that there was a personnel matter.”
Palmer outlined the issues during public comments before the board determined whether or not it would hear Smith’s grievances.
“So my question is did Mr. Smith ever write the superintendent a letter expressing whatever concerns he had and gave the superintendent an opportunity to meet with him regarding those particular concerns?” Palmer said. “Because it wouldn’t be right to come before the board and he hasn’t gone through the right steps. I do not know if he has or has not.”