Friday, July 27, 2007

Two meetings, one topic: Felton's future

Covering one meeting on deadline can be hectic enough. Keeping tabs on a simultaneous meeting 75 miles away complicates things.

The Midfield Board of Education, southwest of Birmingham, convened at 5 p.m. Thursday to discuss five finalists for their superintendent post, including Anniston Superintendent Sammy Lee Felton.

An hour later, Felton was center stage here in Anniston for the latest in a series of tense, at times combative, meetings about an assistant principal at the high school and, by the end of the night, his future with this school system.

Since learning of Felton's candidacy in Midfield, I've been in close contact with their school board president Nathaniel Hutton by cell phone. By about 5:45, it was time to leave for Anniston's meeting, and no word on the Midfield vote had come.

The Anniston board met for about 90 minutes, beginning with the back-and-forth over whether to reinstate former AHS assistant principal Charles Gregory and ending with board member Nathaniel Davis asking to begin the process of terminating Felton's contract. The move failed by a 2-2 vote, but it was the first public call for his ouster by any elected official.

Earlier in the day, we had planned for two stories: One about the board meeting, where we expected Gregory's post to come up but had not planned for Davis' call to remove Felton, and another about the Midfield job. I reached Midfield board member Shirley Troulias, whom I had met when I sat in on Felton's interview there, by just after 8 p.m. She told me they had chosen another candidate.

Hearing that, we decided to weave it all together into one comprehensive accounting of one night for the embattled Felton. Check it out in today's edition of The Star.