Goshen dispute settled

Published 8:17 pm Friday, June 19, 2009

The legal dispute between the Pike County Board of Education and several Goshen residents was settled Friday out of court.

A petition, filed by 12 Goshen residents in effort to stop the hiring of athletic director and head football coach at Goshen High School, claimed Superintendent Mark Bazzell and GHS Principal Al Griffin violated the Alabama Open Meetings Act by discussing the position with board members outside of a public forum.

But, the 12 in the suit — Adam Register, Carroll Rhodes, Royce Stroud, Samuel Green, Cedric Green, Sheriff Russell Thomas, James Larry Snyder, John David Taylor Jr., Town Clerk Traci Shaver, James McClendon Jr., Steve Sanders and Johnny Prince — have announced the two did not violate any of these laws.

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“After extensive dialogue with school officials, we agree and publicly state that Dr. Mark Bazzell and Dr. Al Griffin and the members of the Pike County Board of Education did not participate in any illegal acts or wrongdoing relating to the potential hiring of a new football coach,” the “concerned citizens of Goshen” said in a letter Friday.

Matt Baker, attorney representing the Goshen residents, said the parties agreed to dismiss with prejudice, meaning none of these issues can be brought up again with regard to the hiring of a football coach.

“What the residents agreed upon was in the best interest of the citizens of Goshen, the board of education and Goshen High School,” Baker said.

Bazzell said he is pleased the dispute has come to an end and is proud to have parents in the community taking interest in education.

“They’re passionate about their schools exactly the way they should be, and we’re really blessed folks are interested in their schools,” Bazzell said.

“We are very pleased that we’re able to put this behind us. It will give us an opportunity to move forward in a search for a coach for Goshen High School.”

The residents were originally opposed to Bazzell’s recommendation to hire Mike McCombs, former coach of Benjamin Russell High School for two years and Etowah High School for seven days.

Now, Bazzell said that McCombs likely will not accept the job anymore, and the search will continue.

He said he is unsure what the next step will be for the school system in this decision.

“We’re going to need to spend some time thinking on how we’re going to do this,” Bazzell said.

The coaching position will have to be approved by the board. The next meeting is scheduled for July 13 at 5:30 p.m.