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COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI)- After a four and a half hour meeting Monday night, the Columbus School Board of Trustees decided to fire School Superintendent Martha Liddell.

“Three trustees voted for the release of Dr. Liddell, two against. The three being Mr. Lautzenhiser, Mr. Spears and Ms. Turner. The two not supporting her release were Ms. Verdell and myself,” said School Board President Currie Fisher.

Two White board members and one Black voted for the termination, which came after weeks of negative stories about Liddell’s leadership. A series of media interviews she did last week didn’t quell the storm. Fisher wouldn’t tell us why Liddell was ousted.

“She was made aware last night why she was terminated. It will be presented to her in a letter and then she will have her opportunity along with an attorney to process that and review it and take the actions that she may need to take,” said Fisher.

Issues surrounding her use of district funds and personnel for a private party, an outside consulting business, visits from state auditors, and extensive traveling raised questions with the board and public. But some residents are not happy with the board’s decision.

“I heard her talking on the news and it kinda clicked when she said ‘Headlines are just headlines and a lot of times headlines can destroy you.’ But me personally, I don’t think she would do anything to harm anyone. I think she was a pretty good person to be in that position,” said Columbus resident Marvin Stevenson.

” She was our 1st Black female superintendent of our school system and I believe she should be given another chance. I like her and I support her 100%,” said Columbus resident Mary Weatherby.

Lavonne Harris is President of the Lowndes County NAACP and believes the school board is leaving out one important factor in this decision: the children.

” The focus needs to be put back on them, not all this politics stuff and what’s going on at the board. And think about it. Just actually think about it. You got senior and juniors about to go to school. They might be reading what’s going on in the media now. They’re probably thinking hmmm, the board don’t care about whether I get an education or not,” said Harris.

Fisher says the children remain the board’s first priority as it begins looking for a replacement.

“I’d just like the public to know that this is a shake up, but that the school board will work to make sure that our business is conducted fairly. That decisions are made in an informed way expeditiously and we will get an interim superintendent and the business will go on,” said Fisher.

Liddell was named superintendent last June after a year as interim superintendent. When she was named, she had been the odds-on favorite for the job.

WCBI reached out to Dr. Liddell. She would not go on camera but tells us she’s spending time with her family while still taking in the news about her termination.

Comment on this Story

  • Teacher

    Ridiculous! She broke the law! Why is this being made into a race thing? Yes, she was the first black female superintendent of our school district and will always have that place in history, but you don’t get extra chances and priveleges just because you were the first anything. This is not about race and it’s a cheap shot to make it so. This is about the education of our children. We need a leader who cares more about them than her personal days, private parties, and paying the school back for tax-free purchases she made through them (which she admitted to, mind you). I’ve always been a fan of WCBI, but this newscast disappoints me. You’re a reporter and news source. Tell both sides of the story. Don’t skew it.

  • Kat

    Why is WCBI making this a race issue? This is a school issue. Mrs. Liddell broke the law and her contract and you make it look like she is the victim. The kids are the victim here not her. Who cares who voted her out. They voted her out because they have morals and our kids best intentions at heart. She should’ve been gone along time ago. She is gone, move on. Lets get someone who knows what they are doing and really cares about the kids and this school district. We don’t need anymore power hungry leaders in this community.

  • Navy Vet

    I want to know why WCBI felt it necessary to mention the race of the people on the board and how they voted? What difference does their race make? Unless you want to try and make it a race issue. Why do so many black people in Columbus feel the need to use the race card every time something doesn’t go the way they wanted it to? And this mentality is evident on our city counsel too. I agree with Teachers comments 100%.

  • Gregory Temple

    Good job ,two down one more to go,Mr.Shannon, NO DOUBT and we will have the school back on track! !!!!!!

  • Martha Liddell

    Posted by Dr. Martha Liddell to the News Director

    Columbus Schools and I have settled any disagreement we may have had via a no falut agreement and the matter has been completely settled. I resigned as Superintendent in November 2013 and the Board of trustees accepted my resignation as indicated in a letter to me from the Board President on behalf of the school board. No laws were broken on my part or any other district employee, community member or board member I’m aware of who used Aramark catering services. The company is an independently owned and nationally recognized food service vendor/contractor who had the autonomy to provide catering services for internal adn external clients using their company’s good and employees by agreement with the former Superintendent that proceeded my tenure. If any error in invoices were made, it was made by the Aramark food service director who was not an employee of the school district. The board and I have put this matter to rest and citizens should do the same.

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