School District to review HR duties

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NICEVILLE — The Okaloosa County School District will review and revise the job description for the assistant superintendent of human resources after the former position holder — arrested for failing to report child abuse — resigned last week.

At a School Board workshop Thursday, Chairman Lamar White asked the staff to review and possibly add or delete some of the roles and responsibilities of the assistant superintendent.

Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson told White her staff already has begun the review process.

“We’re going to be taking our time looking at that,” Jackson said. “It may take us a little time to get it how we want it and to get it developed in such a manner that it meets the full needs of that position. That position has changed over the years and it has become more and more of being an expert in certain things.”

Stacie Smith, the former assistant superintendent of human resources, had held that position since 2014. She reported directly to Jackson and in some cases, according to Jackson, had the authority to act unilaterally to close investigations of allegations made against teachers.

That was what happened with a 2016 investigation into charges that Kenwood Elementary pre-K teacher Marlynn Stillions was harming students, according to Jackson.

School District investigator Arden Farley looked into allegations that Stillions was physically abusing a student, and on June 17, 2016, turned in a report confirming the allegations.

Smith issued a memo Aug. 1, 2016, that stated Farley had failed to follow union guidelines in conducting his investigation and declared the Stillions case closed. The report was filed away and no suggested sanctions were implemented.

In May 2017, Eddie Perillo, the father of the victim of the alleged abuse, obtained a copy of Farley’s report and took it to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office. An investigation was conducted and Stillions was arrested Sept. 13 and charged with child abuse.

Farley and former Kenwood principal Angelyn Vaughan also were arrested and charged with failing to report child abuse.

Smith was arrested Jan. 29 for three felony charges of failing to report child abuse.

Smith was paid significantly less than her fellow assistant superintendents. Smith’s salary of $94,378 paled in comparison to the $120,697 salary of Marcus Chambers, the assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, and the $112,112 made by Nick Kootsouradis, the assistant superintendent of school operations.

Despite her title and leverage, Smith made less in 2018 than at least 31 people in the School District, including two assistant principals, school records show.

Smith’s resignation prevented the School Board from having to take action against her. Following her arrest, Jackson had suspended Smith with pay.

At Thursday’s workshop, Jackson announced Chambers has temporarily taken over Smith’s position.

It will be up to School Board members to approve the job description if district staff make any changes.

The School District will eventually advertise the position opening.

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