HUNTSVILLE, Ala - Huntsville City Schools board member Pam Hill announced her resignation on Tuesday at a board meeting.
She said she has been sick, and disclosed she has a disease that causes pain. She stated that being a board member was a dream job, and she feels she was born to be passionate about Huntsville City Schools.
"People either love me or hate me. I'm good with that," she said. "Something happens when you think you are near death. My priorities have changed and my priorities now are to be with my six grandchildren and to be with them as long as I can. Not that they don't have loving parents. And I want to be active in my son's church."
Hill said her resignation would be effective May 24 after the district's high school graduations are complete.
"With that being said, effective May 24 after the final graduation, I resign. So I'm telling you now that I resign May 24." She added, "There are no tears."
She said her priorities now will lie with her grandchildren and her family for her time left on earth. She added that it had to happen now because she is building a home and it is not in District 5. She said her family closes on that home on May 24.
Hill said that she believes applications will be taken, and the city council would need to vote on someone to fill her seat for the remainder of her term.
Hill started her teaching career at Highlands Elementary.
Hill said teachers had a tremendous impact on her as a child, and they inspired her to become an educator herself.
She was elected to the school board in August 2018. Her term was set to end in the fall of 2020.
Hill said Tuesday that upon that election, her goals were to see former superintendent Casey Wardynski replaced effectively, do away with a bus company the district was using called Durham School Services, and rid the district of contracts for services that she believes were too expensive. She is proud to have accomplished these.
A strong advocate for teachers, Hill fought for higher pay and prioritization of teacher support throughout her time on the board.
Hill quickly became known on the board for her quick wit, turn of phrase, and potential to ruffle feathers. She famously curtsied after her comments during one board meeting.
It's her words that drew criticism from other board members, specifically then-president Elisa Ferrell, and even some community members.
Ferrell accused Hill of misconduct in 2017 and asked for intervention from the state Superintendent of Education. She accused Hill of leaking bad information to media that led to a superintendent candidate's disqualification from consideration for the job, and said Hill defamed board members. Hill later fired back, saying she didn't do that, and she took to social media to call the accusations "unbelievable."
The two clashed again in March 2018 when Ferrell accused Hill of "erratic" behavior and moved to have her censured. This came after concerns during the accreditation process, when an agency's report suggested board behavior was a threat to the district's accreditation. But that move for censure was ill-fated and later, would not gain any traction. The board took no action on the measure and instead, continued with Alabama Association of School Boards mediation. The entire situation drew heavy criticism from Hill's supporters and community members who considered it a distraction from the issues at hand.
Some have also criticized Hill for where she resides in the district. Hill bought a home in Tennessee but resides with a family member in her district at this time.
Tuesday, Hill addressed all of it.
"I'm just me. It's my personality," she said before calling for special education improvement, equity, and a reduction in contracts.
"Twice it has been brought up that I might be censured, and y'all this is only halfway through my term," she said. "I have seen interference in superintendent hirings. That's not good. I have learned to forgive deeply. I mean that," she explained.
Hill went on to address the housing situation she is in.
"False information has been given," she said. "I have always lived in the district I served. My husband has a job here."
She added of her Tennessee home, "We bought that home for me to die in. I have been told I have either ALS or MS, and my roots were in Rocky Top and that's where I wanted to die."
Hill thanked all the board members by name Tuesday, regardless of their history. Board President Beth Wilder said she wished Hill "all the best."
Pam Hill said her resignation is effective May 24.
A district spokesman said the city council would then vote to appoint someone to fill the remainder of her term.