Lafayette County School board member unhappy

Published 10:34 am Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Ken Hewlett has been on the Lafayette County School Board for about as long as former board attorney Gray Tollison was before his contract was not renewed earlier this month by a majority vote.

Hewlett said Tuesday he has no idea why Tollison was not retained.

Ken Hewlett

Ken Hewlett

“He has given back to the school probably more than he’s made working for the board,” Hewlett said. “I’ve always been satisfied with the work he’s done for this board.”

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Hewlett said he made a motion to renew Tollison’s contract, which was seconded by new board member Kimberly East. However, the other three board members, Judith Thompson, Brent Larson and Bill McGregor voted “no,” which meant Tollison’s contract would not be renewed.

“There was no discussion,” Hewlett said. “It’s as if they all knew they were going to vote ‘no’ and no one explained why.”

The board has not yet hired another attorney, according to Hewlett.

Hewlett said Tollison was brought back into the meeting and was told he was not obtained in a 3 to 2 vote.

“He didn’t say much,” he said. “He seemed disappointed and a little shocked. That just wasn’t the way to do it. They didn’t give him a reason either.”

Hewlett said he believes his fellow board members should give their reasons as to why they decided not to keep Tollison after his 17 years as board attorney.

“I believe the people have a right to know why,” Hewlett told the EAGLE.

Board member Judith Thompson told the EAGLE this morning she voted against renewing Tollison’s contract because she “felt strongly that we needed to go in a different direction.” She made no other comment on the subject.

Attempts to gain comment from the other board members, other than Hewlett and Thompson, have been unsuccessful as of this morning.

Tollison, a state senator since 1996, was appointed the chairman of the Senate Education Committee in 2012. He is a lawyer at Tollison Law Firm in Oxford with a primary focus on personal injury, products liability and government relations.

Tollison issued a brief statement in regards to the action of the school board last week saying he has enjoyed serving the school district for the last 17 years.

“However, the School Board decided to go in another direction,” he said in an email to the EAGLE last week.