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Bomb threat, malfunctioning cameras mar school board meeting

News that another bomb threat had been made at Picayune Memorial High School coupled with information that security cameras that could have identified a suspect were malfunctioning marred the noon meeting of the school board for the Picayune Municipal Separate School District yesterday even before it could get started.

“We aren’t in session yet, but I just want to say this has got to be stopped,” said board chairman Harvey Miller when Superintendent Dean Shaw and Asst. Superintendent Brent Harrell entered the boardroom and broke the news that a bomb threat had been found at the high school. The two men said that the school board was far enough away from the high school that the meeting did not have to be moved to another location.

“For the money we are spending for security in this school district and for the cameras not to work is just inexcusable,” said Miller when he also was told that cameras in the area where the bomb threat had been found were malfunctioning.

“We need to move on to another vendor,” he told Shaw. “Every time we have a problem, the cameras (in the affected area) are not working,” he said.

Miller said the district originally started with a local vendor and moved on to a larger vendor in Jackson, Camerawatch Corp. The board chairman said he knew of a local contractor that had recently had a camera system put in that seemed to be working properly and suggested that the district’s administration make contact.

“We’ve committed too much to security. Just get us a vendor that works,” he said.

Toward the end of the meeting, Miller noted that so far none of the bomb threats in the district had resulted in any bombs being found or exploding, but “it just takes one. We have to respond to these things.” He said that until this year every bomb threat had been solved with suspects being taken into custody and that he expected the same result in the case of the bomb threat Monday and the one Tuesday.

The board voted for the district to contract with Rucks Robinson, who has been superintendent of three school districts with schools accredited at Level 5, to help the district align and improve its curriculum to move towards achieving a Level 5 accreditation. Shaw and Harrell said Robinson had been superintendent of East Central, Vancleave and Jackson County school districts before retiring.

The board also voted to table a 16th section contract for a short period until a determination could be made as to whether an industrial lease could be obtained from a company Miller said has been considering locating in Picayune.

“I gave the City Manager (Ed Pinero) a list of properties that might be of interest,” Miller said. The board chairman works for the City of Picayune as contracting agent.

He said that if the unnamed company took a lease on the property, the district “quadruple its money,” for the lease.

Donations of $30 for Kids Biz/Teens Biz and $26.91 from Target, both at Roseland Park Elementary, were accepted with thanks. The board also approved an application to Toshiba for a grant of $432.97 for the “It’s for the Birds” program for Roseland Park teacher Susan Burns.

In other business, the board:

— Approved personnel matters.

— Approved out-of-state travel.

— Approved adding to a mowing contract.

— Approved the 1st reading of a board policy on Construction/Renovation Contracts-Early Head Start Funding-Davis-Bacon Act.

— Went into executive session on legal, discipline and personnel matters.

Adjourned.