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Bertie selects Priddy

WINDSOR – Perhaps the healing process has begun.

Less than one week after emotionally-charged meeting where the contract of Superintendent Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart was terminated, the Bertie County Board of Education met here on Monday where they selected an interim.

In a unanimous vote, the board selected Dr. Michael Priddy as interim superintendent.

Dr. Priddy is expected to begin work today (Thursday).

Terms of his contract, one that is scheduled to last until June 30, were not immediately available to the media.

“We may have to change (the contract) if he has to leave prior to June 30 or if we find a permanent superintendent to fill the position before that date,” Rickey Freeman, Bertie School Board Chairman, said. “We’re hopeful to have a permanent superintendent in place by July 1.”

As far as the sudden change in educational leadership in Bertie County was concerned, Freeman said, “we’ll move forward from here.”

When asked for any comments regarding the Jan. 23 special called meeting by the school board where, after a 66-minute closed session, the board, in a 3-2 vote, terminated Dr. Collins-Hart’s contract, Freeman referenced information released to the media on Monday. That press release is as follows:

On Tuesday, January 23, 2007, the Bertie County Board of Education met in special session and voted to end its relationship with former superintendent Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart. Since that time, board members have received numerous calls from members of the public, expressing both support and opposition for this decision.

Individuals opposed to the action have asked for an explanation as to the reasons behind the board’s decision.

The board understands the public’s interest in why the board chose to take this action.

However, this is an internal personnel issue and is designated under N.C. General Statute 115C-321 as confidential personnel information.

As such, neither the board, nor any employee of the Bertie County Public Schools, nor any board member, nor the board attorney is at liberty to discuss any specific information regarding the circumstances surrounding the departure of Dr. Collins-Hart.

The Bertie County Board of Education remains absolutely committed to the programs that are currently in place in the Bertie County Schools and will continue to work closely with current staff, administration and the Department of Public Instruction to ensure the continuity of these programs and their continued success.

The board supports all of its programs and is committed to providing even greater opportunities for our children to succeed.

Freeman told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald that the board’s attorney is currently negotiating with Dr. Collins-Hart to fulfill the terms of her contract with Bertie Schools. That contract, one that calls for an annual base salary of $122,500, stipulates that if the contract is terminated prior to its end date (June 30, 2009), the board must pay her for 12 months following termination.

Meanwhile, the Bertie school system will rely on Dr. Priddy’s extensive educational background. He served as Superintendent for the Pitt County Schools from 2000-2005.

He also has 22 years of combined service with the three Guilford County school systems where he served in numerous positions ranging from Associate Superintendent for Auxiliary Services, Associate Superintendent for Administrative Services, Personnel and Transportation, Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Personnel and Executive Director for Curriculum and Accountability.

Throughout his career, Dr. Priddy has reached out to schools and communities to build strong lines of communication and respect.

Most recently, he was recognized by Governor Easley, the Pitt County Branch of the NAACP and the Pitt County Black Ministers Association for his vision, his care and concern for children and his successes with transforming high schools.

The board is impressed with Dr. Priddy’s insights into the transitional period facing Bertie County as the search for a new superintendent continues.

Dr. Priddy stressed the importance of working together over the next few months to ensure the system continues to move forward.

“This is a critical time for students, teachers and citizens,” Dr. Priddy said. “Much progress has been made and important improvements are underway in the Bertie County Schools; they must be maintained and strengthened as we move through the next five months.”

One of the first items to greet Dr. Priddy on his initial day on the job is a special session of the Bertie School Board at 12 noon today (Thursday).

The board has planned this meeting at 249 White Oak Road in Windsor to discuss confidential personnel matters, to consider a recommendation for filling the current vacancy in a principal position at Bertie High School and to meet with Ed Dunlap, Executive Director of the North Carolina School Boards Association, to discuss the process of conducting a superintendent search.