City Council removes two members from the Hattiesburg School Boa - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

City Council removes two members from the Hattiesburg School Board

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) -

Two seats on the Hattiesburg Public School District's Board of Trustees are empty now. Tuesday night the Hattiesburg City Council removed two members from the board. It's a move Hattiesburg  City Council President Kim Bradley says is about accountability.

"In this particular case the school board is accountable to us, because they need our vote to either reaffirm them, or to allow them to serve," said Bradley.

Bradley says due to Tuesday night's deadlocked two to two vote to ratify and confirm Mayor Johnny DuPree's reappointments, Fred Burns and Eleanor Harris, are now officially off the board.

"The mayor had to know. He had to know in his mind that this was how this was going to come about," said Bradley.

To Bradley, this is an outcome put into motion by the board of trustees "not listening" to the council's concern of raising taxes, during hard times, in order to facilitate the budget the district requested.

"We sat down and tried to have a discussion with them three years ago about tax increases, not only for city taxes, but for school taxes. We spoke to supervisors. We wanted to hold things in check, and actually we had no traction. They really resisted any discussion about their budget, how they arrived at their budget. I was told that it was there, they wanted the money and they were going to get what was due them,"said Bradley.

Bradley added, after all of this, no one should be surprised by his vote, but according to Hattiesburg Public School District Superintendent James Bacchus that's his exact reaction.

"It was a surprise to us that two of our board members weren't reappointed," said Bacchus.

Bacchus says during his first year, the district only wanted the same funding they received the year before, which wasn't an increase. Bacchus added he doesn't know why Burns and Harris were not reappointed, but he was sure of one thing.

"I do know that our school board is functioning within the policies and procedures that is set up by the city government and the legislature," said Bacchus.

Some council members, like Bradley, have been vocal about their dissatisfaction with the district's budget request, and with what Bradley calls a lack of cooperation by the board, which could lead anyone to question if this was a way to get even with the school board.

"For every action there is a reaction, and they took their action, and yes the council reacted in response. I guess, yes, I guess that is true. Very simply put that is true, but it's about accountability. I don't think you get a pass. I don't think they get a pass on the events that took place," said Bradley.

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