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Hammond School Board declines to consider member's request not to renew superintendent's contract

School City of Hammond

A Hammond School Board member's efforts to oust the superintendent continue to come up short. Carlotta Blake-King wanted to notify Superintendent Scott Miller that the board didn't plan to renew his contract. But that didn't make it onto Tuesday's meeting agenda, after Blake-King's motion to add it ended in a two-to-two tie.

Blake-King then took aim at her fellow board members during the meeting's public comment portion. "We don't listen to anybody," Blake-King said. "It's your way or no way, and that's why we in the hell we in right now because I feel like we in hell and don't know how to get out!"

Miller's contract includes automatic extensions, but it does let the board part ways with the superintendent, either for cause or for "philosophical differences." Blake-King offered to explain her plan of action by reading an email from school attorney Monica Conrad, but Conrad cautioned her against unilaterally making the board's confidential legal advice public.

Meanwhile, a petition calling for Miller's resignation was presented by resident Shannon Servin. "All the signatures, even all the comments the taxpayers have over the last couple years of what they're not happy with all this money went to," Servin explained. "You could take it, you could throw it away, whatever."

The school board will likely continue discussing the matter during closed executive sessions.

This comes as School City of Hammond is under pressure from the state to improve its financial situation. Chief Financial Officer Eric Kurtz again warned board members of a double fiscal cliff, due to the end of federal COVID money and the non-renewal of the district's operating referendum.

"And these cuts will reduce personnel. They will reduce services that we offer to students and families," Kurtz said. "There's just no way that the School City of Hammond can cut $22 million and not have an effect on what we do."

Meanwhile, the board approved contracts for next school year for 40 administrators. It was part of a consent agenda that also included 19 resignations, 11 retirements, one termination and one reduction in force.

The school board also approved a legal settlement but declined to offer any details, on the advice of attorney Conrad.

"It is deemed to be confidential," Conrad explained. "It's a confidential matter."

"It's a confidential matter that the taxpayers, the community has to pay for," Blake-King added.

Blake-King voted against the settlement, while board member Kelly Spencer abstained.