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Parents concerned by Biggersville coach situation
by Zack Steen
Jun 10, 2014 | 537 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
More than 100 parents, students and concerned citizens filled the board room for the regular meeting of the Alcorn School District this week. The group had united together to support the hiring of current Biggersville High School boys basketball Coach Cliff Little for the BHS girls basketball coach position.

“We have felt like the stepchild and it’s time for someone to stand up for our girls,” said Scott Nash, who has two daughters on the BHS girls basketball team. “The girls are sitting back, missing valuable summer league practice time. We need a coach put in place now and that coach should be Cliff Little.”

Current BHS girls basketball Coach Chris Parman resigned from the position effective July 31.

BHS Principal Gary Johnson started the search for a replacement several months ago. A new math teacher/basketball coach was hired, but apparently withdrew after being contacted by upset parents.

“Mr. Johnson wants to hire a math teacher who can also coach basketball, but why waste time searching for someone who does both, when we have a proven winner like Coach Little who is ready to take on the position of girls basketball coach,” said Nash before the school board Monday night. “There are students starting to leave Biggersville ... to request transfer to another school simply because of this situation. These girls don’t feel like they are being treated fairly.”

Nash and the other supporters in attendance believe Johnson will not recommend Little for the position due to a personal conflict between the two which dates back to an incident that occurred at the 2013 Alcorn County Basketball Tournament.

“If Mr. Johnson would take his personal feelings out of this, the best answer is right in front of him. It’s the common sense answer on both the financial and academic side,” added the parent. “If Coach Little is crazy enough to want to coach the boys and the girls basketball team, let him have them.”

Nash said he and other fellow parents had talked with Johnson several times about Little taking the coaching position.

One other parent and a student both addressed the board during the meeting.

“It’s obvious the ship is sinking,” said James Voyles, district two school board member. “It hurts me to think this could happen in our system, regardless of who it is or who it involves ... it hurts me that we can let this slip by and close our eyes. As an elected official, I will not close my eyes.”

The new hire process begins when a principal makes a recommendation to the superintendent. It is customary the superintendent agree with the principal’s hiring recommendation. The new hire is presented to the school board, where board members have the ability to approve or disallow all new hire recommendations.

“Nobody loves Biggersville more than I do,” said Superintendent Gina Rogers Smith. “I want the best for Biggersville kids, but we must do it by the book. I do not want us to do something here that might jeopardize our state accreditation.”

Smith said the Mississippi Department of Education updated their accreditation requirements in May, including the process of overriding a principal's hiring decision.

“No one could find a better coach for these girls, then what we already have in Coach Little,” said Smith. “He is an asset to this school district and I have no personal problems with him. The thing is — we have to do this right.”

Randy Wilbanks, district five school board member, said he supported the hiring of Coach Little for the position, but was not for doing anything the wrong way.

“I think we only need to be looking for a math teacher,” he added.

At the request of Little, Smith agreed to allow Little and the current assistance Coach Jana Little to begin practicing with the girls basketball team this week until a decision is made on the head coach position. Jana and Cliff Little are married.

“I’m ready to give these girls the practice they deserve, but if the board decides that I’m not right for the position, I’ll gladly step aside,” said Little.

The board is excepted to announce a decision at their next regularly scheduled board meeting on June 30 at 5 p.m.
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