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November 10, 1992

Jeanne Andrews Misquoted The Harbinger

On November 2 Jeanne Andrews, then candidate for School Board Commissioner for District 5, misquoted an article that appeared in The Harbinger in response to a caller on a local radio talk show.

The caller asked Mrs. Andrews if the three white school-board members, N.Q. Adams, "Sugar" Warren and Mrs. Andrews, colluded to exclude the two black members, Hazel Fournier and Dr. Joseph Mitchell, from meetings held to discuss the suspension and termination of school superintendent Dr. Douglas Magann.

Mrs. Andrews replied on the radio talk show that Mrs. Fournier was informed of the events leading up to the school board meeting on October 5, when the three white school board members voted on a motion to suspend Dr. Magann for 90 days with pay, hire the accounting firm of Smith Dukes & Buckalew to audit the school system's financial record and attorney Jim Wood to assist the board to dismiss Magann, and name assistant superintendent Paul Sousa to replace Magann. Fournier voted against the motion and Mitchell abstained. Among the charges against superintendent Magann is "improper use of school funds."

Then Andrews cited The Harbinger and claimed that Fournier said in an article in the newspaper that the three white school board members had consulted her concerning Magann's dismissal.

What Mrs. Fournier Told The Harbinger

In the article, which appeared in Volume XI, No 3 of The Harbinger (October 13-26, 1992), Mrs. Fournier said she received a phone call on September 24 from "a reputable citizen in the community" who told her that "Mrs. Andrews has three votes, enough to terminate the superintendent." Fournier said the man asked her to support their decision.

Mrs. Fournier said she told the caller that she had a problem, because what the man was telling her "I should be getting from my school board president, and I have not heard from her." Fournier also told the man that "You should not be telling me this."

Mrs. Fournier said that on September 25 Mrs. Andrews apologized to her for the phone call by the man, adding that Andrews said "she was upset that this gentleman had called me because he was dipping into business that was not his."

Mrs. Fourner was asked if the September 24 phone call and the subsequent conversation on September 25 with Andrews indicate that she was informed of the events leading to the suspension of Magann on October 5. Fournier told The Harbinger, "They may be using that as an excuse but they did not inform me that they were going to make a motion to suspend Magann and replace him with Sousa.

"When the motion was made in the school board meeting on Monday [October 5], the motion had four parts. You have to decide on the law firm, on the accounting firm, you have to decide the replacement for the superintendent, and you have to decide a 90-day suspension as opposed to, say, 60 days or 30 days," said Fournier. "To me, that says that there was some pre-planning in order for you to make that kind of motion."

Fournier added that Mrs. Andrews did not answer any of her questions at the October 5 school board meeting. "Had she done that, she could have said that on such and such dates I informed you of the matter," Fournier said.

Mrs. Andrews won re-election to the school board.

-- November 10, 1992

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