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Board defends beach meeting

By By Tracy L. Brady, Hartselle Enquirer
Gone are the days when "gonefishing" was an adequate explanation for where you were and what you were doing. If you doubt that, just ask the Hartselle School Board.
Hartselle Schools Superintendent Dr. Lee Hartsell is denying accusations of an illegal school board meeting that allegedly took place in at an Alabama Association of School Boards convention in Gulf Shores .
A story in the Sunday edition of The Decatur Daily claimed Hartsell and school board members met secretly and agreed to replace Hartselle High School Principal Jerry Reeves as athletics director at the school.
"To say Reeves was fired is the absolute most absurd statement I've ever heard," Hartsell said. "Did we discuss school issues? Yes. Did we eat together? Absolutely. However, we did not vote on anything."
Under Alabama's Sunshine Law, all public boards are required to notify the public of their meetings and make those meetings open to the public, including the press. Boards may only meet behind closed doors to discuss the "good name and character of an individual" or to hear from their attorney about a lawsuit that has been filed. Courts have ruled job performance is not included under good name and character.
According to Hartsell, no recommendation to replace Reeves will be made at the Aug. 12 board meeting. In fact, Hartsell said he has no immediate plans to make such a recommendation.
"Mr. Reeves and I have been discussing his replacement for four or five years now," Hartsell said. "He has certainly done a good job, but I would like to free up some of his time to concentrate on his primary job as principal. I'm not ready to make a recommendation, though. That is a change needing to be made next year more than this year. I don't have one thing on paper regarding this issue."
According to Hartsell, an announcement was posted at the board office regarding the convention. He said many school issues were discussed among representatives of Hartselle, as well as representatives from surrounding areas.
"If we did break the law, I am indeed sorry," Hartsell said. "The intention of the convention was to discuss school issues, not to hide anything. We didn't do anything different than others who attended the convention.'

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