With latest resignation, JPS board can no longer conduct business

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Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect reasons for his resignation provided by Richard Lind in a letter to the school district that was released to Mississippi Today on Monday.

The Board of Trustees of the Jackson Public School District can no longer hold meetings until the mayor appoints new members.

Jackson Public Schools

Richard Lind

Board attorney Dorian Turner announced at a Thursday night meeting that Richard Lind, who was voted in as board president last month, submitted a letter of resignation Thursday morning. He was not present at the meeting.

In his letter of resignation, Lind said city council member Aaron Banks, who also represents Ward 6, informed him that “state law does not allow me to live in ward 4 and serve as a ward 6 member. This was clearly something that I was unaware of.”

In the letter, Lind said he decided to give his resignation because he realized it was important that each ward is represented by someone who lives in it.

The next city council meeting is scheduled for Aug. 1, the same date for the next JPS board meeting.

With his resignation, the board is down to three members, meaning there is not a quorum present to conduct business. The JPS board usually consists of seven members and needs four to hold a quorum.

Earlier this year, board members Kimberly Campbell and Kodi Hobbs resigned from the school board on May 30 and June 15, respectively. Former president Beneta Burt’s term ended June 30.

Turner said the district has alerted City Hall, so that new mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba can appoint replacements as soon as possible. The resignation gives Lumumba the ability to appoint a majority of the school board as he begins his four-year term as mayor.

“We have called the city administration and let them know the situation to let them know that the board is anxiously waiting on a fourth board member, but until we get that fourth board member at this point in time there’s really nothing that the board can do,” she said.

Jackson Public Schools

JPS Interim Superintendent Freddrick Murray

Interim superintendent Freddrick Murray said the change will not affect the district’s ability to operate on a day-to-day basis and school will still start on time on Aug. 8.

“The work of the board of course is extremely important, we have board meetings twice a month. But you know, the work goes on,” Murray said. “Employees will show up to work and do all those things that are necessary to get school started. We don’t anticipate not having a quorum stopping any of the work that we have before school starts, but of course we need that fourth person.”

At the part of the meeting where members establish a quorum, vice-president Camille Stutts Simms told the audience “this is quite a unique situation we have here.”

After the meeting Stutts Simms told reporters that board members are advocates for students, teachers and staff and whoever is appointed next needs to be mindful of that.

“We are the bedrock of Jackson, so I would want someone that has a heart for the students, the teachers, and the city,” she said.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for Aug. 1. In the meantime, Stutts Simms will serve as acting president.

Jed Oppenheim and Rickey Jones are still serving, but members need to be appointed to represent wards one, two, three and six.

Stutts Simms’ term expires in June 2019; Oppenheim’s ends in June 2018; Jones has a term that ends in March 2020.

A post on the JPS website said the district  “anticipates the nomination and confirmation of a new Board member in early August 2017.”