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JMC School Board Still Without Superintendent

By Cyndi Lundeberg
By clundeberg@wbbjtv.com

JACKSON, Tenn. - Many Jackson residents had hoped the January 10 school board meeting would usher in a new superintendent. While votes were cast, no superintendent was placed in the position.

"Many people don't understand. They thought the vote (tonight) was to hire someone and it's not," school board chairman David Clifft said.

Verna Ruffin received eight total votes, Janice Hampton voted for Terence Paterson then recanted her vote and gave her support to Ruffin. Alan Coverstone received no votes.

Chairman David Clifft said the eight votes for Verna Ruffin means a group of board members will travel to her hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The purpose of the trip Clifft said is to "find out the feelings about her in the community."

Even though Verna Ruffin received the majority of the votes, the school board said the remaining candidates are still up for consideration.

"The other two candidates have not been eliminated but this is the candidate the board has chosen to pursue," current superintendent Buddy White explained.

The absence of a definitive candidate had many at the meeting frustrated. "We cannot afford to continue to put our kids at risk and not know who the superintendent will be," Sheila Godwin.

Others felt the prospect of an African American superintendent was a step in the right direction for the Jackson-Madison County School District.

"This whole process it has been addressed. It's an issue in our community and school community. She's an African American and we have a predominantly African American student body. So it does matter," said L'sana Djhaspora, who also spoke during the open comment portion of the meeting.

Despite residents' unrest, the school board is confident in their decision making process."I thought the board did exactly what I had hoped they would do tonight," said Clifft.