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Harper wants to improve Meridian schools

By Staff
APPROVED n Doris Harper speaks to the Meridian City Council. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Nov. 14, 2001
Meridian's newest school board member said Tuesday she wants to ensure all public school students receive a quality education.
But Doris Harper said she needs time to gather more information about the school system before setting goals. She said she was pleased Mayor John Robert Smith appointed her to the school board.
Meridian City Council members approved Harper's selection by a 5-0 vote at a special meeting Tuesday. She took office immediately, filling a position that has been open since March the end of former member James Vance's term.
Board oversees education
Harper is one of five people who serve on the Meridian School Board. All serve staggered, five-year terms; they are charged with overseeing and supervising the city's public school system.
Smith said Tuesday that Harper's term will end in five years, in November 2006. But, the mayor said, that date "will be re-adjusted if there are any discrepancies."
If officials determine the term lasts five years from the day the position became vacant, then Harper would serve until March 2006.
Smith said he appointed Harper to the board because he has "seen her personal strength and I believe in her commitment to the children of Meridian."
Harper, a case manager at Weems Community Mental Health Center, has an associate's degree in general education from Meridian Junior College and a bachelor's degree in psychology from William Carey College.
She is working on a master's degree in counseling and psychology at the University of West Alabama.
Councilmen offer praise
Ward 3 Councilman Barbara Henson said she believes Harper will do a good job.
Council President George Thomas of Ward 1 stressed his concern for better public school test scores. He asked Harper about her goals for recruiting white students to the district.
Harper said there are probably many factors in the issue. She said she could not give an adequate answer without reviewing information about the district and the school board.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at
The Harper file:
Name: Doris D. Harper.
Age: 46.
Hometown: Meridian.
Family: Married to the Rev. William "Bill" Harper, pastor of Savannah Grove Baptist Church; they have two sons and a daughter.
Occupation: Case manager at Weems Community Mental Health Center.
Education: Associate's degree from Meridian Junior College; bachelor's degree from William Carey College; working on master's degree at the University of West Alabama.