Parents, students protest non-renewal of two Latexo coaches
Houston County Courier
By Lynda Jones
It was standing room only in the Latexo High School library as the Board of Trustees met to discuss contracts Thursday night, March 31. Many of those in attendance were students upset that two coaches would not be returning next year. Several parents also attended, as well as the father of one of the coaches. About eight persons spoke in hopes of persuading the board to renew the contracts of Kevin Hopson, a Latexo graduate, and Misty Parish, a first-year teacher in the district. Lack of experience and state budget cuts were cited as reasons for the nonrenewal of their contracts. One of those speaking on behalf of Hopson was a former board member, Arlis Allen Lee. Lee said he has known Hopson all his life, that Hopson grew up in the area, went to college and came back when so many youth don’t return. Hopson also read a statement reviewing his experience within the district. Trish Hardy, a parent, said, “I’ve never seen such a bond,” as what developed this year between Parish and the girls’ volleyball team. “She’s an excellent coach.” Speakers endorsed the ethics and morals of the two employees, and how the employees teach their students how to become good citizens as well as how to be athletes. Two of the girls on the volleyball team tearfully pled for their coach’s job. Parish also addressed the board. After hearing the speakers, the board and Superintendent Don Elsom met in executive session to review the superintendent’s recommendations. When they returned to open session, the board voted 6-1 to accept Elsom’s recommendation to not renew Parish’s contract. Trustee Barbara Steward voted to not accept the recommendation. Prior to the vote, Trustee Mike Furrh said this was the toughest thing he has done since he has been on the board. He expressed the previous task he thought most challenging was hiring the superintendent. Furrh noted the diligence the board took in that process when he said he thinks it is the purpose of the board to make the policy and to hire a superintendent to take care of administrative business. Furr said he believes Elsom has expertise and the good of the school district in mind when he makes a decision. The board voted unanimously to not renew the contracts of Hopson and another employee, who was not present at the meeting. In other action, the board voted unanimously to maintain the current tuition rate of $1,000 per year for non-qualifying pre-kindergarten students and the $600 per year transfer fee for out-of-district students. Since no candidates filed to run against the incumbent board members before the deadline, and there were no write-in candidates who applied before the deadline, the board voted to cancel its May 14 election. Also, the board voted on Calendar Option 3 for the coming school year. Elsom said Option 3 had 30 votes and Option 2 had 10 votes from faculty members. This calendar provides for nine-week grading periods instead of six-week grading periods. Students still will receive progress reports every three weeks, Elsom explained.