The Bibb County school board gave permission Thursday to its attorney and four board members to answer questions in court about closed-door contract discussions.
Attorney Patrick Millsaps and four subpoenaed board members may testify in a Friday court hearing about the legality of Superintendent Romain Dallemands employment contract, the board decided in two separate 8-0 votes.
The board took no other action, even though it was widely speculated the board may be considering a possible buyout of Dallemands contract.
On Friday, Bibb County Superior Court Judge Edgar Ennis is scheduled to hear arguments in a lawsuit that challenges the legality of Dallemands employment contracts, as well as arguments for a separate whistle-blower lawsuit filed by former school system Chief Financial Officer Ron Collier.
Millsaps told the board Thursday evening he could be called to testify Friday in the contract lawsuit. If so, he said he may not be able to answer some questions because of attorney-client privilege, which protects discussions between attorneys and their clients.
However, an outside attorney representing the school system in that suit told Millsaps his testimony about the superintendents contract could help their case.
Millsaps asked the board to allow him to discuss the contract matter in court, which the board approved. The board also voted to allow board members who have been subpoenaed in the case to speak openly about what happened in closed sessions regarding the superintendents contract.
After the meeting, board member Lynn Farmer, who is among those subpoenaed, declined to answer questions about Fridays hearing or whether board members discussed Dallemands contract Thursday night.
My plan is to answer what Im asked (in court), Farmer said.
Charles Cox, who is representing plaintiff Brad DeFore in the lawsuit, told The Telegraph on Wednesday that board members Sue Sipe, Jason Downey and Lester Miller, as well as former board President Tommy Barnes, also were subpoenaed in the case.
Dallemand answered questions from the media very briefly after Thursdays nearly four-hour meeting.
When asked about whether he was seeking a buyout to his contract, Dallemand said, Im here to serve the term of my contract. The contract, signed in December, is a three-year agreement.
Dallemand, who said he wasnt subpoenaed for either of the two hearings Friday, declined to comment about anything else discussed Thursday.
He said he isnt concerned about pending litigation against the district.
As superintendent, I vow to defend the district from any frivolous lawsuits, he said.
Board member Thelma Dillard said the lawsuits are a distraction to the school system.
What I hope for in terms of the lawsuits is for the community to move forward, she said. Education is very important right now.
Dillard said the district needs to focus on education and making sure it stays accredited.
The called school board meeting drew a packed house -- many of those showing support for Dallemand. Many in the crowd clapped and cheered when Dallemand made his first public appearance at the meeting.
Some in the audience, including Macon City Councilwoman Elaine Lucas, said they want to stand behind Dallemand and let him know they want him to continue his work here.
A quality education for Bibbs students is crucial to the success of the community, and many feel Dallemand can help the districts students achieve that, Lucas said.
Its an opportunity to show support and do our part, she said.
Brenda Nelson Kitchens, a retired Bibb teacher with 30 years of experience at several elementary schools, said she had worked for several superintendents, but none have made an impact like Dallemand.
They have never been on the frontline like he has, Kitchens said. Everything he has done, he has been shot at.
Not everyone at the meeting expressed their support for the superintendent, however.
Bibb County resident Darren Latch said he didnt want the board to make a decision on Dallemands contract until after a judge hears the case.
Because it was brought up as a question of law, the law should decide it, not the board members at this time, Latch said.
During the meeting, 12 local pastors gathered outside of the board office to show their support for Dallemand as well.
The Macon Miracle plan, which includes offering Mandarin Chinese to Bibb students, and the opening the Welcome Center prove Dallemand is dedicated to all children, said the Rev. Ronald Terry of New Fellowship Baptist Church.
We want the superintendent to stay and be allowed to do his job, Terry said.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. Telegraph writer Phillip Ramati contributed to this report. To contact writer Andrea Castillo, call 744-4331.