Newport School Board Still Looking for a Superintendent

May 27, 2004 -- Posted 7:00 p.m. CDT

Newport, AR -- The Newport school board is still searching for a new superintendent, but is that its only problem?

The Newport superintendent position became vacant last month after Floyd Marshall resigned, following an altercation with a member of the media.

The search for a new superintendent started off with 35 candidates, now the list is down to 6. "Well it's going very well," said Newport School Board Member Kathy Green. "We've interviewed several applicants and we've gotten numerous applications we're happy with what we've got."

The previous superintendent Floyd Marshall resigned from his position, and his contract was bought out by the school board for over $200,000.

But some community members are still angry about the school board's handling of this matter. They say they believe Marshall is still playing golf at the local country club under his superintendent's membership card.

"He does not belong as a member of Newport Schools any longer, and he does not have a cell phone furnished by Newport Schools any longer," said Green.

There is also concern about the handling of Floyd Marshall's son Ryan. The younger Marshall, who is not a certified teacher, was also involved in the altercation and was suspended with pay until his contract expires June 30th. That was a decision made by his father Floyd Marshall.

"The superintendent makes all the decisions or recommendations concerning employees,  that's not the school board function," said Green.

But Wilma Maiers with the Arkansas Education Association says the school board should have been involved with Ryan's suspension.

"In districts where that person does not request a hearing the board makes a motion to uphold the superintendent's recommendation, at that point the salary stops," said Maiers.

In addition to these concerns, some other matters handled under Marshall's leadership are also resurfacing.

K8 news has obtained a report from the Arkansas Department of Education that documents the Newport School District's plan for recruiting more minority teachers. As part of the data compiled last school year,  it states within the past 5 years there has been a decline in minority personnel. The data also finds that a total of 3 minority teachers and 1 minority administrator have been hired from 1997-2002. The African American population makes up 33% of the entire Newport student body.

"Obviously the plan they have for recruiting minorities is not working," said Maiers.

The Newport school board hopes to have a superintendent hired by June 1st.