Pubdate: Tue, 23 Apr 2002
Source: Decatur Daily (AL)
Copyright: 2002 The Decatur Daily
Author: Deangelo McDaniel


HARTSELLE -- City School Board member Tom McHugh woke at 1:30 in the 
morning on April 10 wondering if he should have seconded Jeff Gray's motion 
to go into executive session.

Gray wanted to meet in private with the City Council to discuss two 
Hartselle High School baseball players who collapsed in school March 4. 
Mayor Clif Knight requested the executive session.

But McHugh did not second the motion because he did not want the public to 
think that he and the school board were participating in a cover-up.

"Hartselle is a small town, and there were a lot of things being said," 
McHugh said Monday night at the City Council's work session.

He added, "I didn't want anything else to happen to give the people the 
feeling that there was a cover-up."

Superintendent Lee Hartsell's admission at the April 9 meeting that one of 
the students tested positive for marijuana contradicted previous statements 
he made.

The council members said they were aware that one of the players failed a 
drug test and wanted to discuss Hartsell's public denial.

City leaders said their concerns were not about the baseball program but 
about the action of the adults involved with the investigation.

Unless they are discussing the good name and character of an individual, 
Alabama law prohibits public boards from meeting in private.

Four council members and the mayor interviewed McHugh and Shirley Wells for 
a school board position that will be vacant July 1. Leigh Clemons withdrew 
as a candidate because she is building a home outside the city limits. 
Knight said state law requires board members to reside in Hartselle.

McHugh is the incumbent. He wants to serve another term. The council agreed 
to accept more applications before making a decision.

"What we have done will not be lost," Knight said. "Mrs. Wells and Tom will 
continue to be candidates. We want to expand our search but we may not get 
any more applications."

The council meets tonight at City Hall. If there was a vote, Councilman Don 
Hall said he would vote to reappoint McHugh.

Councilman Allen Stoner said he was satisfied with responses Mrs. Wells 
gave and would support appointing her.

"There have been a lot of mistakes over the last month, but a lot of them 
have been honest mistakes," Hall said. "It took a lot of courage for Tom to 
come down here."

Questions surrounding the baseball player who tested positive for marijuana 
dominated the interviews.

It was clear through their questions that the majority of the council 
members were not happy with how school officials handled the situation.

McHugh said he has a number of questions about the investigation but 
believes that school officials are punishing students equally.
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