The Concordia Parish School Board during its regular meeting made no indication Thursday night (Oct. 8) whether it would reconsider extending Superintendent Whest Shirley’s contract through the remainder of the 2020-21 school year.
Board members also declined to explain why it previously decided not to extend the contract.
Hundreds of Shirley supporters have signed their names to a website petition asking the board to extend his contract and a spokesperson for that social media campaign praised the superintendent’s work during an address before the board.
Destiny Robb said more than 2,000 signatures have been compiled in a drive to keep Shirley as superintendent.
She asked that the board reconsider extending his contract for the remainder of the school year and then reevaluate his contract at that time,
Board President Fred Butcher said he could not comment on the matter because it was a personnel issue.
Robb said the school system needed stability to avoid more upheaval in the schools during the Covid-19 pandemic that has caused a complete operational revamping virtually and in the classroom.
Robb said she was the parent of a special needs’ child and that Shirley as a principal was particularly sensitive to those needs.
“He always treated us in a godly manner,” she said.
She praised his accomplishments and leadership in the school system, noting that he has a “heart for children.” She said during his leadership, ACT scores have remained stable parishwide and that several schools have improved and stood out.
She also thanked Butcher for speaking with her a number of times about the matter.
The petition drive to support of Shirley was launched on the Change.org website and the “Save Concordia Parish” Facebook page.
The School Board voted 5-4 during a special meeting in August not to extend Shirley’s contract an additional six months.
The board has yet to begin the search for a new superintendent. A special meeting was to be called to discuss advertising for the position as well as salary.
Shirley’s contract will end December 31.
The board’s vote not to extend Shirley’s contract followed an executive session.
Supporting the contract extension were Warren Enterkin, John Bostic, Ricky Raven and Lisette Forman.
Voting against were Dorothy Parker, Derrick Carson, Butcher, Raymond Riley and Angela Hayes.
Shirley, who is 53, has 30 years in education and is beginning his 26th year working in the parish school system.
In 2017, Shirley, Riser Middle School (West Monroe) Principal Rodney Lloyd and Vidalia Lower Elementary Principal Arlana Davis emerged as finalists for the superintendent job out of eight applicants.
Shirley was ultimately selected superintendent on a 5-3 vote.
Supporting Shirley were Bostic, Raven, Enterkin and former board members Jeffrey Goodman and Ronnie Bradford.
Supporting Lloyd were Butcher, Riley and former board member Marilyn Campbell.
Former board member Cheryl Probst did not vote because Shirley is her son-in-law.