A new city school superintendent was hired last week, but it was done very quietly with no community input.
Former deputy superintendent Dr. Frederick Hill was hired during a special call meeting to lead the Yazoo City Municipal School District. Dr. Georgia Ingram, who was serving as the interim superintendent, has been relocated as the district’s interim school improvement transformation officer, according to the district’s website.
Phone calls and emails to the central office to determine how the school board voted on the hire were not returned by press time.
Hill’s hiring was ahead of schedule. The Yazoo City Municipal School Board announced last month that it would continue its search for the district superintendent until March 31. During its January board meeting, the school board said it would conduct interviews in April. The school board also said they would advertise the position in The Herald.
However, a district secretary told The Herald several special call meetings were held since the board’s last official meeting. Hill’s hire was made during a special call meeting last week. The announcement of that special meeting was made by a letter “posted on the front door” of the central office.
But some members of the community are concerned about Hill’s controversial history, particularly a discrimination lawsuit within the Natchez-Adams School District.
A federal jury, composed of three black women, two black men and three white men, found Hill guilty of racial discrimination in 2015. Following the trial, the Natchez-Adams School District board terminated the contract of Hill, citing that he had violated civil rights laws by discriminating against a former white principal by creating a “hostile work environment and forcing her into retirement.”
Hill joined the Natchez-Adams School District in 2012, promising to bring fresh ideas to turn around a failing school district. According to past news reports, the Natchez-Adams School Board looked to his record within the Tupelo School District where he served as assistant superintendent.
The Natchez-Adams School District did move from an F to a D rating under Hill’s tenure. But there was heavy criticism about his management style. During his tenure, Natchez High School had three principals in three years.
Three reassignments of Hill’s resulted in three wrongful termination lawsuits. Among them was Principal Cindy Idom that resulted in a September 2015 judgment against the district. Idom was later awarded $371,000 in damages, with $217,737 of that judgement rendered against the school district.
Hill was the central figured in the lawsuit, which also included Assistant Superintendent Tanisha Smith and the school district.
U.S. District Judge David Bramlette, who presided in that lawsuit, said that testimony and evidence showed that Idom was “a victim of harassment, belittlement, discrimination, intimidation and being in a racially hostile work environment.”
Prior to Hill’s termination, the Natchez community held several protests asking for Hill’s termination. One protest, attended by both black and white citizens, was organized by a school board member.
Phone calls to Hill and the Yazoo City Municipal School Board President Dave Collins were never answered.