Friday, August 28, 2009

New Monroe superintendent celebrates with union

From all accounts, it seemed more like a festival than a back-to-school union meeting in Monroe last night. Less than a day earlier, the school board had finally severed its ties with a despised superintendent, and the new head of the district was feted like a conquering hero at his maiden appearance before teachers and school employees.

Interim Superintendent Julian Gray was greeted with cheers by more than a hundred union members at the Monroe Federation of Teachers and School Employees' "All Aboard" meeting, as News-Star reporter Stephen Largent wrote here.

For much of the day, school board members had been writing a contract for Gray, completing it in time for him to be recognized as the system's new leader at the union party.

Gray's signing marked the end of a most unpleasant chapter in the history of Monroe City Schools. Former Superintendent James Dupree on Wednesday night accepted a $235,000 buyout of his contract, saving the board from a protracted and ugly legal battle.

Dupree had been on suspension since July 16, charged with multiple violations of school board policy. But the board's fight with the superintendent had been going on for months even before that.

The bad blood seemed to be washed away by the time MFT/SE's party started on Thursday evening. As Federation President Sandie Lollie put it, "We're going to let the past be the past."

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