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Keeping a “Combustible” School Superintendent, Vote Angers Residents, District Explains

STARKVILLE, Miss.–Would your boss let you keep working if you got arrested? The school board in Starkville, the consolidated Starkville/Oktibbeha District, voted Monday night to keep Superintendent Lewis Holloway, despite his simple assault charge that involved pulling a gun a couple of weeks back.

“Two weeks ago, the board voted unanimously to place Dr. Holloway on administrative leave with pay pending an investigation by school board attorney John Hill,”: read an explanation from the board.

“While we are sensitive to the privacy of personnel matters as required by law, we seek to maximize transparency in our decisions as a board without comprising the rights of those involved.

“After interviewing nine individuals, including neighbors, law enforcement officers, and others, here’s what we know:

“The investigation into the allegations against Dr. Holloway uncovered a conflict between neighbors that has escalated beyond a dispute.

“While we regret that Dr. Holloway didn’t immediately seek help from law enforcement in this instance as he did in previous incidents which are documented by officers who responded, our investigation did not conclude there was intent to harm anyone.

“The allegations do not involve school personnel or school related issues, and the alleged incident occurred away from district property.”

The 3 to 1 vote angered some residents who attended the board meeting.

“He is combustible and we have seen that…there is no telling what he can do,” said Donna Couvian, talking to WTVA TV. Her family was involved in the incident that got Holloway arrested.

Others were embarrassed to have a superintendent on TV and in the paper wearing jail clothes.

“Three of the four board members that voted to keep him need to be replaced. They don’t need to be there because they’re afraid to make touch decisions,” said Chris Taylor, local NAACP president.

The rest of the explanation from the district:

This is a private matter that has become very public because of Dr. Holloway’s position.  That is understandable.  However, it does not exclude Dr. Holloway from a fair hearing.  Dr. Holloway is prepared to respond to the charges against him in court.  As a board, we fully respect the judicial process, but we also have a responsibility to act.

On a motion by Dr. Keith Coble, seconded by Jenny Turner, the board voted 3-1 to reinstate Dr. Holloway following a two week suspension without pay for good cause based on upon investigation of the events of Sunday, August 9.  Dr. Holloway will return to work on September 8.

We have confidence in Dr. Holloway’s leadership.  He’s established a record of progress in the District, strengthening our classrooms with innovative technology and creating learning opportunities through new and expanded partnerships, such as the Youth Environmental Science Program and Project Lead The Way.  Dr. Holloway has also worked closely with parents and community members, such as PTO Executive Council, Parents for Public Schools Starkville, The Greater Starkville Development Partnership and Mississippi State University, to build a culture of high engagement through involvement and interaction.

In addition, Dr. Holloway has navigated consolidation with a tenacious spirit, determined to build a bigger, stronger Starkville Oktibbeha School District with the support of our community.  He’s stood up for our public school families, teachers, students and administrators while we have become one of the few consolidated districts in the entire country whose enrollment has increased measurably beyond the number of consolidated students.

Our District has strong support from our community, and it is evident now more than ever.  We will continue to work together as we build on our successes to keep our schools and District moving forward.



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