Board takes no action after closed meeting
By By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
Nov. 21, 2003
Southeast Lauderdale Elementary School Principal Joey Knight stood with his hands in his pockets and his shoulders slumped Thursday as he stared out a hallway window at Northeast High School.
A few feet away, Lauderdale County school board members met in private to discuss a personnel matter Superintendent David Little said involved charges that Knight and his wife misused school funds.
But Little said the school board discussed a recent audit of the school district and whether Joey Knight and Denise Knight, federal programs director for county schools, misused grant money and federal funds.
Little attended the start of the closed meeting, but said he was asked to leave. Little said the board's attorney indicated he wanted to discuss with the board "something … with neither the Knights or us there."
Board members later emerged from the meeting at about 5:50 p.m. and took no action. Members also declined to talk about the closed session and what they discussed.
The closed meeting came almost two weeks after Little charged that Denise Knight used "several thousand dollars" of Title I federal funds in January to pay for classes toward the completion of her doctorate degree.
Little also charged that Joey Knight spent $420 of grant money from the Barksdale Reading Institute to buy gift certificates for his Southeast Lauderdale teachers before the Nov. 4 general election.
Joey Knight, a Republican, ran against Little, a Democrat, in the November election for county public school superintendent. Knight lost and Little won a third straight term.
Joey Knight has said he didn't buy his teachers gift certificates. However, he said at a political forum before the election that grant money was used to buy gift certificates for teachers.
Denise Knight has said all expenditures were approved by Little, the school board and the state Department of Education.
Nevertheless, Little said the state auditor's office is investigating whether the Knights violated any laws. Little said two weeks ago he planned to ask the school board to require the Knights repay the money.
Little made no such request Thursday.
Little, Assistant Superintendent Ed Mosley and the Knights waited in the hallway while the school board met in private. Little returned to the closed meeting two minutes before it broke.
Little, like board members, had no comment on what was discussed: "The board took no action. We're not going to comment on anything else."