Saturday, October 03, 2009

EDITORIAL >> Promote Nellums

Michael Nellums has been reinstated as principal at Mills High School, and all is right with the universe.

That’s because four Pulaski County Special School District board members had the gumption to stand up to the district’s powerful teachers’ union and the three thin-skinned board members who have unfailingly tended to the union’s needs.

Those four with gumption are Mildred Tatum, Danny Gilliland, Charlie Wood and, casting her first vote, the newest board member, Sandra Sawyer.

The hearing was held Monday behind closed doors, so we aren’t positive what went on during his eight-and-a-half-hour grievance hearing. But we do know the district has spent at least $12,000 investigating whether or not Nellums told a fellow principal that board president Tim Clark paid board treasurer Gwen Williams for her assistance in impeaching the old president and electing him.

And we know another investigation was conducted to see if Nellums accused the board of conducting a vendetta against him.

After that, Nellums was transferred from the Jacksonville Boys Middle School to Mills University High School in Little Rock.

We know that Nellums was suspended with pay three days into this school year, the day after he had security escort from the premises Sandra Roy, executive director of the teachers’ union and the support staff union.

We also know this: Clark, Williams and Jacksonville’s board member, Bill Vasquez, have worked consistently to punish Nellums and fire him. Interim Superintendent Rob McGill has caved into those board members. Clark handpicked the elementary school principal to run the district after running off Superintendent James Sharpe. We don’t know if McGill is part of the cabal or is just trying to keep his job.

We know that the district called four witnesses against Nellums and that one, Mills French teacher Tim Minton, has since been arrested on four felony counts of sexual abuse of a student after school and in the classroom.

We know this as well: Nellums has dedicated himself to improving the schools and helping the students wherever he has served. He has stood fearlessly against the board and a union that he has frustrated without end.

We feel certain that the district will either end up paying his attorneys’ fees — John Walker, Will Bond and Ricky Hicks can’t be cheap.

And we know that we wish he were running the school district instead of teachers’ union. It is the investigators who need to be investigated.

—John Hofheimer