The DeSoto County school board elected Milton Nichols as president Thursday, replacing Ann Jolley.
The board also selected Stephen Dodd as secretary of the five-member board, which oversees the 40-plus schools countywide that make up Mississippi’s largest public school district.
Normally a routine matter, the election process raised a few eyebrows among spectators when Jolley, who cast the only vote against Nichols, insisted that Nichols take over the meeting immediately after his selection.
“This is your meeting,” said Nichols, who apparently thought he would take over as president at the next meeting.
But Jolley began gathering personal items from her seat at the center of the table, next to Supt. Milton Kuykendall, and told Nichols to take charge of the meeting as she moved toward Nichols’ seat to swap positions.
After Nichols took the gavel, he presided over the nomination of Shelia Riley as secretary, but Riley declined the nomination without explanation. Dodd was then nominated and chosen unanimously.
After the meeting, Jolley said there was no problem. She said she was simply trying to follow the letter of the law, which she said requires the new president to assume the position immediately. Asked why she voted against Nichols’ selection, Jolley declined to comment.
Nichols said he was honored to assume the role and felt sure Kuykendall and board attorney Keith Treadway would keep him on track.
Nichols is the former longtime mayor of Olive Branch, where current city leaders at their Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday night approved a resolution expressing concern over schools within the city that the resolution says need refurbishing.
The issue was not discussed by school board members Thursday.
Also at the meeting, Barry Politi addressed the board during the public comment period, calling for wrestling to be offered as a sport in the county’s schools.
Politi claimed the sport isn’t available in Mississippi schools, but district athletic director Anthony Jenkins said the sport is sanctioned in the state. He said he would have no problem with distributing a flier promoting the sport in schools locally.