After controversy surrounded several of Rodger Fullilove’s personal Face-book posts, he is no longer the director of support services and special projects manager of the Clarksdale Municipal School District as of Friday.
While the details related to the school's process of removing Fullilove remain vague, CMSD superintendent Dr. Earl Joe Nelson confirmed Fullilove is no longer with the district.
Nelson said no special board meeting was called to make the decision. Nelson also said the issue was a personnel matter and would not say if the decision was Fullilove’s or the district’s.
“He’s no longer with the district,” said Nelson, adding he could not comment any further.
Clarksdale High School senior Marchellos Scott raised issues with Fullilove’s employment during the August school board meeting and a protest prior to the meet. Fullilove’s posts Scott specifically addressed the Black Live Matter movement and called them terrorist. The post also pictured what Scott called a derogatory photo of U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, (D-Calif.), saying, “What coronavirus looks like under the microscope.”
Fullilove did not return a message asking for comment.
Nelson discussed the importance of professionalism and protecting the district’s name.
“The Clarksdale Municipal School District system is very important to our students,” Nelson said. “When we have adults and professionals that place themselves bigger than our system, policies and procedures, that’s not allowed in the school district.
“When I make myself, Joe Nelson, the superintendent, bigger than the system, then I shouldn’t be here,” he added. “The Clarksdale Municipal School system is bigger than any individual.”
Nelson said the CMSD has to make the best decisions for the students, not the adults. He said the No. 1 priority is the health and safety of students and staff and the No. 2 priority is the teaching and learning process.
“As an educator, we have to be responsible to be professionals at all times, professionals when we’re on our jobs, professionals when we’re in our private life,” said Nelson. “We’ve got to be professionals always. We never step out of the roles of being professionals because we’re setting an example for our students.”
In other business:
Due to the discussion surrounding Fullilove, two items were not discussed during the regular board meeting, as planned.
The board held a special meeting Wednesday, Aug. 26 to pass a COVID-19 plan and order chromebooks for students while CMSD students are learning virtually.
Nelson said the COVID plan, which assistant superintendent Dr. Toya Matthews put together, was based on guidance from the CDC, Mississippi Department of Education and Gov. Tate Reeves.
The operations plan is four pages, discusses health and safety, bus protocols for students, protocols for employees, visitors, student meals, social distancing, health and hygiene and more.
Nelson reported there are 1,937 students in the district for the 2020-21 school year and plans to have chromebooks for each one was approved.
“We’re waiting on our federal money to be approved,” Nelson said. “We’re in line now.”
Nelson said devices including iPads and chromebooks the district already has are being distributed.
“Some parents are already asking if they can use their own device, so we’re allowing that to happen,” Nelson said.
Nelson said every school except WA Higgins Middle School picked up their computers.
Nelson said some families do not have Internet access and don’t want a device. He said those students are able to do their work with paper and pencils.
“We have an option for every situation because we’re going to service all of our students,” Nelson said.
Dr. Janice Page was incorrectly titled in last week’s article. She is a retired educator who works for the district on a contractual basis. Dr. Shanta Rhodes and Dr. Toya Matthews are the district’s two assistant superintendents.