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School Board votes to keep Shannon in job

After seven hours and seven witnesses, the Clinton School Board unanimously rejected a recommendation to oust an employee from the position she has held for more than six years.

In April, Clinton Superintendent James McGaha wrote a letter to Wanda Shannon informing her that her contract as the district’s system administrator for the Arkansas Public School Computer Network (APSCN) would not be renewed. Instead, she was offered a contract as Pre-K receptionist at a pay cut of more than $7,000.

In his “findings,” McGaha said Shannon allowed an unauthorized person access to financial information; that she disabled access to part of the APSCN system to two employees without permission; and coding was changed on “cycle” reports and caused them to be kicked back.

Shannon denied all of the accusations. She was represented by Robin Kuykendall with the Arkansas Education Association.

McGaha was represented by Fred Hart, who was provided by the district, and the School Board was advised by its attorney Paul Bloom.

The hearing, which Shannon elected to have open to the public, was called to order in the Junior High Library but was quickly moved to the cafeteria as close to 100 people poured in. The hearing, Bloom said, would be “conversational” in tone, not like a court proceeding.

In his opening statement, Hart accused Shannon of “a gross and egregious breach of confidence,” saying that she gave Intermediate Secretary Cheryl Smith access to the financial side of APSCN when Smith should only have been authorized for the student side of the program. In later testimony, Shannon denied giving Smith that access, and Smith said she did not even know she had it and had never used it.

Kuykendall, in her opening comments, said not only was $7,000 at stake, but also the reputation of a “longtime community member who has never had a blemish on her record. There have been allegations here that are simply not true.”

As to McGaha’s second finding, Shannon acknowledged she did disable access to student information for Betty Pack and Debbie Watson. Pack and Watson are part of the school’s business office. At McGaha’s direction, they were given access to student information by Mavis Smith, the district’s treasurer, so that they could provide confidential reports to the incoming superintendent.

Shannon testified that she had asked Watson if she needed access any longer and Watson said no. Pack testified that she does not run reports. Kuykendall noted that it was Shannon’s job as system administrator to delete access to anyone who not need it, and she did not need permission to do so.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the School Board went into executive session for about 20 minutes, returning to vote unanimously to reject McGaha’s recommendation to not renew Shannon’s contract.

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