Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

NLR School Board selects McGee as interim superinten­dent


The North Little Rock School Board voted 7-0 Monday to make Keith McGee the interim superinten­dent of the 8,000-student school district, effective immediatel­y.

McGee, who has a doctorate in education, has been the assistant superinten­dent and director of secondary education in the district since December. He previously was principal at Horace Mann Magnet Middle School in the Little Rock School District.

The School Board approved the hiring and the terms of a contract for McGee at a special meeting that was conducted via the Zoom online videoconfe­rencing system. The beginning and end of the meeting was broadcast to the public on Facebook Live. The board was in a closed executive session for just over 1½ hours before the two 7-0 votes.

Board member Tracy Steele made the motion to hire McGee. Board member Rochelle Redus made the motion to enter into a contract, the terms of which were not immediatel­y available to the public Monday night because of the online nature of the meeting.

Those joining Steele and Redus on the hire were President Dorothy Williams and board members Cindy Temple, Natalie Wankum, Sandi Campbell and Lizbeth Huggins.

McGee was a participan­t in public portions of the special meeting. After the votes he thanked the board, saying he was humbled and honored to take the position and would work extremely hard to move the district forward.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you for your support as we start this new journey united for student progress,” he said.

McGee’s hiring as interim superinten­dent comes after the North Little Rock board voted 4-3 on April 23 to immediatel­y terminate the contract of Superinten­dent Bobby Acklin, who had served initially as interim superinten­dent and then as full-time superinten­dent starting in July 2018.

The School Board in January evaluated Acklin’s job performanc­e and voted in public to extend his contract

that was set to expire June 30 this year to June 30, 2021.

Various reasons have been suggested for Acklin’s dismissal.

Wankum had requested that night — as part of the board’s regular monthly business meeting — that the board go into a closed, executive session, possibly to discuss an email and audio clip that board members had received.

The email and audio file referred to a grievance hearing from 2019, in which Acklin had described to North Little Rock High School’s Principal Scott Jennings as a political move by Steele to garner votes in the mayoral election, according to news accounts at the time.

Acklin said he believed that the problem was a more recent email he had sent to staff members.

But Wankum said later Friday that Thursday’s executive session had nothing to do with the email Acklin had referred to. She said the board had given Acklin a list of goals, and he hadn’t achieved those goals.

Acklin in 2018 replaced Kelly Rodgers who, after five years in the role, resigned per the terms of a separation agreement he had with the board.

Acklin had worked for the North Little Rock system for 24 years before becoming the superinten­dent of the Dollarway and then the Warren school districts before resigning in 2017. Acklin then worked as a trainer for the Arkansas Public School Resource Center, assisting novice teachers in central Arkansas charter schools.

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