Robeson County Board of Education votes to terminate superintendent’s contract

Updated: Sep. 9, 2020 at 7:31 PM EDT
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ROBESON COUNTY, N.C. (WMBF) - During a Board of Education meeting Tuesday night, the leaders of the Public Schools of Robeson County voted to terminate the contract of Superintendent Dr. Shanita Wooten.

The board voted on the matter concerning the leadership of the school system following a closed session.

A member of the board explained the terms of Wooten’s contract require the board to pay her the balance of her contract in a lump sum.

The vote to fire the superintendent was split among members of the board, with Chairman Craig Lowry casting the deciding vote in favor of terminating Wooten.

Dr. Gordon Burnette, the spokesperson for Public Schools of Robeson County, wouldn’t go into specific surrounding the decision to fire Wooten but said despite the change in leadership, they will continue to put their students first.

“We understand that people may be uneasy or have hesitation because we changed leadership, but we want our parents to know and our students to know that we are putting our students first,” Burnette said.

The Board of Education went on to approve Loistine Defreece as interim superintendent. She will serve on a month-to-month basis until they hire a permanent superintendent.

By Wednesday morning, a statement by Defreece was already shared on the district’s website, outlining the district’s strategic plan.

“Some important improvement strategies that we will be using include providing a strong focus on K-2 literacy, building vocabulary, integrating digital learning, retraining administrators and teachers on the Common Core, aligning the written-taught- test curricula, and problem solving techniques (math and other areas)," Defreece wrote. "Additionally, we hope that this culture of high expectations in the classroom will better enable students to apply and transfer the knowledge, skills, and abilities that they earn across the curriculum and into their daily lives.”

Burnette recognized that the school district is in unprecedented times due to the pandemic, but expressed confidence in the new administration going forward in the fall.

“We faced challenges with remote learning and we did things to alleviate those challenges. We now have an interim superintendent and our leadership now is focused and capable of taking care of our students and focusing on the success of our students," Burnette said.

The board also voted Tuesday night in favor of hiring a consultant for the school district. Dr. Tony Parker is a retired superintendent who once worked in Johnston and Berkeley counties in South Carolina. He will work with the district two days a week on a month-to-month basis.

When WMBF News reached out to school board members for comment on the decision to terminate Dr. Wooten, we were told they couldn’t comment due to it being a personnel matter.

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