July 10, 2003 – Discussion was intense at an all-day special meeting of the Board of Education on Thursday, but work was slow as the board tried to iron out various issues.
One of the ongoing bones of contention is the status of Nandi Sekou, hired in February as the board's attorney.
The board voted on June 11 to suspend Sekou for insubordination, police were called to the board offices the next day to escort her from the premises, the board voted on June 18 to continue her on paid leave until it met a week later, and it voted on June 25 to suspend her without pay for one week.
Sekou sent a 15-page document to the board appealing her suspension and alleging discrimination by board personnel against her. She has not been to work since June 26 and faxed a doctor's note to the board on July 7.
The board voted on Thursday to go into executive session to discuss the note and related issues. Board members Harry Daniel, Terrence D. Joseph, Keith Richards, Linda Thomas and Yvonne Williams-Henry — who on July 2 formed the majority that elected former acting chair Harry Daniel permanent chair — voted in favor of moving behind closed doors. The same three who opposed Daniel's election — Liston Davis, former chair Jorge Galiber and Malik Sekou — opposed the move.
The ninth board member, Claudette Petersen, who was off island for the last meeting, was absent due to illness on Thursday.
Malik Sekou, who is divorced from Nandi Sekou, said the board should not question a doctor's note about an employee's health.
One thing the board members did agree upon, unanimously, was to have a search committee start the process of seeking a new executive director to succeed Evadney Hodge, who officially retired on Monday.
"We are going to be looking for the best-qualified applicant," Galiber said, adding that the selection should not be based on political affiliation.
Meantime, the board approved keeping Hodge on as executive director on a day-to-day basis until the next board meeting. Daniel, Davis and Richards voted yes; Malik Sekou voted no; Galiber abstained; and Joseph and Williams-Henry as well as Petersen were not present for the vote.
Davis warned, "The longer you draw out the process, the more it will cost."
The board did not get to or was unable to render decisions on all other items on Thursday's agenda.
One stalemate was on whether to reduce the salaries of the board's exempt employees for six months in keeping with a request from Gov. Charles W. Turnbull.
The board's one employee known to be in that category is the executive director; the board did not resolve whether its lawyer also is an exempt employee. Hodge's salary is $80,000 and Nandi Sekou's is $75,000, it was stated.
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