Dis­trict fires school chief and law firm

Guess had lost board’s con­fi­dence

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - VOICES -

The School Board for the Pu­laski County Spe­cial School Dis­trict ter­mi­nated its su­per­in­ten­dent and dis­missed the Roberts law firm as its le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tive Tues­day.

The vote came one day af­ter the su­per­in­ten­dent, Jerry Guess, said that he “and my lawyers of choice” have “lost the con­fi­dence” of the dis­trict’s School Board and that he will leave if di­rected to do so by the board.

Ear­lier Tues­day, the board had called a spe­cial meet­ing. At that meet­ing, the mem­bers voted 6-1, with mem­ber Mike Kemp vot­ing no and ar­gu­ing against it, to dis­miss the law firm. The board said the firm acted too in­de­pen­dently.

Then the board went into ex­ec­u­tive ses­sion. When it emerged in pub­lic about an hour later, the board voted unan­i­mously to ter­mi­nate Guess, ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately.

Guess, 66, has been the dis­trict’s su­per­in­ten­dent since 2011.

He was ap­pointed af­ter the state took over the dis­trict, re­moved its su­per­in­ten­dent and elim­i­nated its school board. The dis­trict now op­er­ates un­der lo­cal con­trol.

Guess is from south Arkansas. He be­gan his pro­fes­sional ca­reer in ed­u­ca­tion in 1978, when he took a job as a lan­guage-arts teacher in the old Fairview School Dis­trict. That dis­trict later con­sol­i­dated with Cam­den’s pub­lic school sys­tem.

He later be­came an ad­min­is­tra­tor for the Cam­den-Fairview dis­trict. Guess was co­or­di­na­tor for gifted and tal­ented stu­dents; as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal and prin­ci­pal of Fairview Mid­dle School; and as­sis­tant su­per­in­ten­dent and as­so­ci­ated su­per­in­ten­dent.

In 1996, he be­came the dis­trict’s su­per­in­ten­dent.

He grad­u­ated from Chidester High School, near Cam­den.

Guess’ con­tract with the Pu­laski County Spe­cial dis­trict calls for him, if ter­mi­nated, to be paid for six months.

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