Talladega City Board of Education 2015-19

The Talladega City Board of Education includes (from left) Mary McGhee, Jake Montgomery, Shirley Simmons-Sims, Chuck Roberts and James Braswell.

TALLADEGA -- The Talladega City Board of Education voted 3-1, with board member Mary McGhee dissenting, to hire career tech counselor Debbie Cochran as the interim career tech director, effective Friday, Oct. 12, at 8 a.m.

The same action failed during the board’s meeting Thursday night by a vote of 2-1, again with McGhee dissenting and board Chairman Chuck Roberts and member Jake Montgomery voting in favor of the hire.

When the action failed, Montgomery moved that the Thursday night meeting be adjourned, then reconvened at 7:30 a.m. Friday. Board member Shirley Simmons-Sims was present for the Friday meeting and cast the third vote in favor. No other business was taken up Friday.

Board member James Braswell is recovering from surgery and was absent from both meetings.

When she voted against the hire Thursday evening, McGhee said Cochran was not qualified for the interim director’s position because she was a counselor, not an administrator.

Superintendent Tony Ball, who made the recommendation, said Cochran was qualified to hold the position on an interim basis, and the appointment had been approved by state officials beforehand.

Moreover, Ball said, the state Career Tech Directors meeting is set to begin Monday in Montgomery, and the system needs someone in the director’s position to attend. A significant part of the system’s career tech funding will be determined after that meeting, and the system stands to lose out on significant amounts of funding if it is unrepresented.

Even with this information, however, McGhee refused to reconsider her no vote Thursday. Because a majority of the board did not vote in favor of the action, it failed. The other personnel actions presented to the board were all approved 3-0 Thursday.

Montgomery said Friday’s meeting was not technically a called meeting but a continuation of Thursday’s meeting. Recessing and reconvening, as opposed to adjourning and setting a called meeting, does not trigger the notice requirements of the state open meetings law, he said.

Former Career Tech Director Trisha Turner resigned over the summer to accept a position with the Pell City school system.

Ball said Friday he is reposting the position of permanent director, which must be up for two weeks. He will, hopefully, be able to recommend a permanent hire when the board meets next month.

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