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School board settles with Carpenters
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Dennis and LaQuanda Carpenter have been released from their contracts with the Newton County School System, following a settlement agreement between them and the Board of Education.

LaQuanda Carpenter, who was on maternity leave from her position as principal of Alcovy High School has elected to not return on Feb. 4 as originally expected. Dennis Carpenter, Deputy Superintendent for Operations for the NCSS was recently named superintendent in Hickman Mills C-1 School District in Kansas City, Mo. Both Carpenters had said they would work through the June 30 – the end of the fiscal year – but Dennis Carpenter will finish his time in the NCSS Friday.

“Both a majority of board members and the Carpenters feel it is in the best interest of the school system and their respective persons to sever the current employment relationship so that the system can begin the process of seeking their replacements and each of them can focus on their move to Missouri,” said Newton County BOE Chairwoman Abigail Coggin in a press release Wednesday.

The settlement follows several months of lawsuits and alleged dissention within the board. LaQuanda Carpenter withdrew a pending lawsuit against District 1 board representative Jeff Meadors in October. The original lawsuit was filed in April and named 11 anonymous bloggers and eventually Meadors himself. She accused them of libel and defamation following comments made on the Newton Citizen website.

According to Superintendent Gary Mathews, “the settlement was discussed in executive session on personnel and was approved – unanimously – as a part of the superintendent`s recommendations at the end of the regular meeting agenda on Jan. 15.”

School board attorney Kent Campbell said the issue was a personnel on and not subject to open records requests.