By Crystal McGough
The Trussville City Board of Education unanimously passed a motion tonight at its regular monthly board meeting, held at the Hewitt Trussville High School auditorium, authorizing Board President Bill Roberts and Board Attorney Donald B. Sweeney, Jr. to finalize negotiations with Superintendent Suzanne Freeman for a Settlement Agreement for her to step down from her position as Superintendent. Freeman was not present at the meeting.
“The employment of Dr. Suzanne Freeman as Superintendent of the Trussville City Board of Education has been the subject of intense concern and comment,” Sweeney said. “Board President Bill Roberts and I met all day today with Dr. Freeman and her attorney, Bruce Gordon. As a result of our negotiations, we have worked out a settlement framework.”
Sweeney said that the negotiations are almost 100 percent finalized.
“All but one or two of the details that had to be worked out through the State Department of State Teacher’s Retirement have been worked out to our tentative satisfaction,” he said. “The details of the Settlement Agreement will have to be memorialized in a formal document. The terms will have to be reviewed and discussed by the Board at a public meeting in compliance with the Alabama Open Meeting Act.”
The BOE announced that it will have a special-called meeting Wednesday morning at 7 a.m. at the School Board office.
“The proposal will be presented to the Board with all appropriate transparency,” Sweeney said. “It is typical in these kind of settlement agreements that we provide for a confidentiality clause. Bill Roberts would have no part of that. (He) insisted that a settlement agreement, as presented to the Board, would be completely transparent for view at the Board meeting.”
On Wednesday, the Board intends to discuss personnel decisions involving the superintendent position, as well as principal and assistant principal positions. The Board plans to name an interim superintendent and and interim high school principal soon.
The BOE announced on July 3 that HTHS Principal Zack Barnes had resigned. Barnes was the high school’s fourth principal in seven years.
“We need to move forward in a successful way,” BOE member Sid McNeal said. “Our Board has challenges ahead of them. I can assure you we’re going to do everything within our power to appoint quality people that will stabilize our system and will move it forward during the interim period
. We will appoint those people as quickly as we possibly can, but we will do it judiciously and we will make every effort to get the right person.”
BOE President Bill Roberts said he wanted to challenge the Board and everyone attending the meeting to look at the bright side.
“It’s been a tough week,” he said. “It has been difficult on Dr. Freeman and difficult on all of us.”
Some local residents said they felt it was time to move forward. “From the opening prayer and throughout the entirety of the Board Meeting, a vision was being cast for our system to move from good to great,” Rick Stotser said. “The Board and many of the community felt that although our superintendent played an integral part of our history, she was not going to become a part of Trussville’s future. I have the utmost confidence in our Board, our Administrators and our teachers to accomplish their goals and make our system great. As Charles Swindoll stated, ‘With vision, there is no room to be frightened. It’s time to march forward. Let’s be confident and positive.’”
Freeman came to Trussville after serving as superintendent for Cullman City schools and assistant superintendent of Auburn City schools where she also served as principal. She began her career as a teacher for 6 years in Opelika City schools. She was named state superintendent of the year in 2009, then later became to first Alabama superintendent in history to be named a national finalist by the American Association of School Administrators.