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Huntsville City School Board takes no action on censure of a board member

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The Huntsville City Schools Board of Education took no action at a special called meeting to discuss a censure that Elisa Ferrell, the board president, proposed against the representative from District 5, Pam Hill.

Ferrell said Monday that she planned on calling for a vote on the measure, which would begin the process of formally reprimanding Hill for accusations Ferrell laid out in a letter to the board and the state superintendent's office.

Tuesday, instead of discussing the censure and whether or not to move forward, the board immediately voted to enter an executive session where they could speak behind closed doors about "the good name and character of an individual."

Upon returning from the executive session more than an hour later, Ferrell read a statement from the board after explaining no action was taken:

"We will continue to participate in mediation to improve communication and governance. We will work with AASB (The Alabama Association of School Boards) to develop a plan to submit to AdvancEd. The Huntsville City Schools Board is committed to working together for our students and employees and community."

Ferrell then adjourned.

Many came to the meeting to support Hill, telling us afterward they felt this meeting was a disappointment.

"This was just a waste of time," said Eddgra Fallin. "Tonight was just an example of the disfunction of this board. It's trickling down to the school system. We are going to have to do something about this, because this is ridiculous."

Adam Keller, UniServ Director with the Alabama Education Association, released a statement ahead of the meeting to speak out against censure proceedings. He had stated that Ferrell's censure attempt was "counterproductive."

We caught up with him after the meeting: "I'm disappointed we even had to have this meeting," he stated. "I'm glad that the school board took no action. That's positive. I hope they're genuine that they are going to work together, because we do have real issues to address."

Ferrell alleged in her initial attempt to censure in March that Hill's conduct would endanger the school system's accreditation status, citing an accreditation report the school system received from AdvancEd.  Keller questioned whether Hill's conduct ever actually threatened the school system's accreditation as Ferrell had said.

"There's no basis to that," Keller said. "The school system has accreditation. School board conduct was one of several factors that was listed for room for improvement. I think that's obvious. But to mislead the public into believing that one board member's conduct is going to risk our accreditation? I think that's irresponsible."

The board has been in mediation with the Alabama Association of School Boards for months. AASB previously told WHNT News 19 it was providing that mediation for members of the Huntsville City school board as part of a request by the Alabama State Department of Education. This stemmed from a previous issue between Hill and Ferrell last year.