Concerned citizen points to ethics issues after Bay superintendent resigns
BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Bay-Waveland School District is now searching for a new school superintendent after Vikki Landry abruptly announced her upcoming resignation Monday night at the school board meeting.
Lana Noonan, a member of the Hancock County Alliance for Good Government, has been attending the Bay-Waveland School District meetings for the past year. She said she believes the superintendent's decision comes after a four-page opinion from the state ethics commission last year regarding Landry and her brother who is employed in the district's central office.
"The ethics commission director backed up his opinion with an attorney general's opinion that a situation created by the board of trustees and the central business office could not happen," said Noonan.
Noonan thinks the decision by the board of trustees to appoint Landry as superintendent back in 2017 created an issue of nepotism since Landry's brother was already working for the district. According to her, the ethics commission advised that one of the individuals should resign from their position.
However, school board member Mike Bell said the board made sure Landry wasn't overseeing her brother and therefore there was nothing illegal about the working relationship between the siblings. Bell said he thinks the change in the board led Landry to retire earlier than she originally planned.
"School superintendents and school principals have a special loophole that nobody else in state or local government has that allows their relative to work in the school district. That applies to some positions and then there are other positions that the loophole does not apply to," said Tom Hood, the executive director of the Mississippi Ethics Commission. "In any event, we discourage anybody in government from directly supervising their relative because even though it may not result in a violation automatically, it's likely to lead to a violation. So it's something we don't condone. It's something we discourage."
Hood only commented on ethics law and he did say breaking ethics law has to result in a monetary benefit.
"The best thing to do is not have one relative advising another relative. But if you're going to have that situation, you need to do everything you can to prevent a violation," said Hood. "And if that's what they did then that is a step in the right direction, but that's not fully what we recommend."
Bell said that an assistant superintendent at the district is in charge of overseeing Landry's brother.
WLOX tried contacting Landry about why she resigned but never heard back. Board president Casey Favre said members will have a special called meeting in the days ahead to discuss their path moving forward.
Landry's resignation is effective June 30.
Copyright 2018 WLOX. All rights reserved.