With the vote to select a new Monroe County director of schools just hours away, the lawyer representing DeAnna McClendon has said nothing in the investigation at her current school district will “result in employment action or criminal charges.”

On June 12, attorney James E. King Jr. with Eskins, King & Marney, P.C., sent an emailed letter to the Monroe County Board of Education acknowledging the investigation that is being conducted by the Shelby County School District following allegations raised in an anonymous letter forwarded to the Shelby County Schools superintendent.

“During my representation, I sat through a seven-hour interview of Dr. McClendon of what I consider personal instead of professional issues,” wrote King. “Indeed, the issues investigated can be described as misunderstandings that are part of day-to-day communications that employees have in all professions, including education. Moreover, what the investigation revealed is that since Dr. McClendon took over the Head Start program at SCS, the decisions she made increased enrollment every year and took a program that was frankly on the brink of disaster and completely turned it around to the success that the Head Start program is today. The personal issues described in the letter were mere complaints regarding Dr. McClendon’s leadership style that caused the program to be turned around in the first instance.”

King continued, “As you all are aware, an individual’s leadership style can create discontent with some who are resistant to change and that is what happened here. Nevertheless, as mentioned in an article in the local news, the allegations raised in the anonymous letter were not substantiated. However, what the investigation revealed is that Dr. McClendon is an effective educator, who is a valuable asset with SCS. As a matter of fact, Dr. McClendon is an incredible educator and will be an asset with any organization that is lucky enough to acquire her services.”

King followed up with another letter this week stating that in order to alleviate the concerns of Monroe County Board of Education members, McClendon was asked to confer with his office to write a provision to be placed in her contract for employment with the School Board, if selected as director of schools.

“Although I find it unusual to be asked to write such a provision, I am completely unconcerned about providing it because, as I have made it absolutely clear, nothing in the SCS investigation will rise to any adverse employment action, let alone SCS bringing criminal charges against Dr. McClendon based upon the facts and circumstances regarding that investigation,” King wrote.

King provided the following provision to the Monroe County Board of Education: “If at any time it is determined by Shelby County Schools (SCS) that the conduct investigated by SCS during academic school year 2018-19 gives rise to any criminal charges of any kind whatsoever being brought against Dr. DeAnna McClendon, the Monroe County Board of Education has the right to immediately terminate Dr. DeAnna McClendon and void the contract from the date of termination.”

King ended by telling the board members that if there is anything else he can do to assist in the process, to “please feel free to contact this office.”

One board member confirmed to The Advocate & Democrat that McClendon remains on paid suspension with Shelby County Schools as the investigation continues. McClendon said during Monday night’s community meeting that she has completed her part of the investigation and it is now in the hands of the school district to complete it.

“The investigation will occur, they will clear and we’ll move on,” said McClendon.

The Monroe County Board of Education will meet at 6:30 p.m. tonight in the boardroom of Central Office to select outgoing Director of Schools Tim Blankenship’s replacement. McClendon, Robert Hooper and Phillip Swanson remain in contention for the job.

The Advocate & Democrat will have coverage online following the meeting, and also inside our Wednesday, June 26, edition.

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