BOE postpones Larke decision, settles Cauthen lawsuit

By: Diane Cho
By: Diane Cho

There is still no decision on the Richmond County school superintendent's contract.

The board might have made a decision during their closed-door meeting on Tuesday, May 30, but they decided not to talk about it.

Board members decided the timing was inappropriate on the night before Richmond County graduates were set to walk the stage.

"The board is taking initiative to be respectful of our young people and their hard work so they can go into their future on a happy note," said board member A.K. Hasan. "We should allow children to graduate and not allow any dissention in the community."

Board members decided to postpone any decision on Dr. Larke's contract until next week.

The superintendent's contract negotiations were supposed to have been finalized on May 1, according to state mandates.

Larke challenged the annual evaluation the board gave him after several board members openly discussed their unhappiness with his leadership.

Attorneys on both sides agreed they needed more time.

But how much longer will it be?

"Difficult to say," Hasan said. "I do think we are very close to bringing it to a close."

While there was no agenda for Tuesday night's closed-door meeting, board members tell us Dr. Larke was not the only one on the hot seat.

Larke's spokeswoman Mechelle Jordan's performance is also up for review.

"I will not discuss Jordan or any other personnel issues because that's what the board opted to do...that issue is not going away," Hasan said.

Board member Ken Echols told News 12 by phone that "We [the board] need to have an intimate relationship with the media, and right now we don't have that...and that's bad."

So if the board wasn't talking about personnel matters...what took them so long behind closed doors?

It was a decision to settle Dr. Ellen Cauthen's discrimination lawsuit.

Dr. Cauthen was the principal at Lucy Laney who sued Dr. Larke and the school board and won.

Dr. Cauthen was awarded $258,000 in that judgment, but after Tuesday's decision to settle, we are told the total amount awarded will be more than $400,000. This saves the board about $75,000.

News 12 did try to speak with several other board members regarding the executive session, but none of them wanted to comment.

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