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Lee resigns from BOE

The Butler County Board of Education will be seeking a replacement member in the coming weeks. Board member Johnny Lee, who represented District 5, officially resigned his position at Thursday night’s board meeting. Lee’s resignation will become effective at the Board’s annual meeting in November 2010.

A civil suit had been filed against Lee by Greg Griffin and Voncile Bedgood, alleging  Lee resides outside the district he is representing on the BOE. Lee’s address is registered as 503 Cook Bridge Road, while the plaintiffs allege he resides at 18990 Mobile Road, which lies within District 1.

The hearing regarding the suit was delayed twice, with Circuit Judge Ed McFerrin agreeing to another continuation in early September, while both parties were still trying to work out a hearing date.

In his formal resignation letter to Superintendent Darren Douthitt and the board members, Lee said: “Since my appointment and later election to this Board, I have been proud to serve this community during both times of great challenge and great celebration . . . in light of the questions that have arisen in recent litigation regarding my residency, I have decided that it is in the best interest of this Board and our constituents to resign rather than put this community through an expensive and time-consuming legal battle. The trials facing our students are too great to become distracted.”

When contacted on Friday, Lee said he had no additional comments, saying he wished to allow the formal letter to express what he had to say in regard to his resignation.

Lee was initially appointed to the BOE in June 2007 following a vacancy left by Joanne Peak, and was later elected to the position by voters.

At Thursday night’s meeting, Douthitt expressed his gratitude to Lee for his service to the Butler County School District and thanked him for his help with the new superintendent’s transition to the area.

“Even though you will not be serving as a board member, I know you will continue to be an advocate for Butler County schools,” Douthitt said.

Lee said he planned to continue to serve the county and the community as a member of the Butler County Recreation Board (15 years of service), director of Georgiana Parks & Recreation Department (10), founder and president of Georgiana Panther Booster Association (10 years) and a member of Georgiana School Coaching Committee (four years).

The board agreed candidates hoping to fill Lee’s vacated seat on the BOE would follow much the same procedure as in the employment of Douthitt: applications will be filled out through Board Attorney Pete Hamilton’s office and will be checked as with any other application, said president Billy Jones.

A deadline for applications has been set for October 7 at 5 p.m. at Hamilton’s law offices in downtown Greenville.

The board members will then cull the applications for their choice of top candidates, scheduling public interviews with their choices.

The goal, Jones said, is to have the new board member in place by the time Lee vacates the position in November.

The board is required to fill the position within 30 days of Lee’s effective resignation date; otherwise, the State Department of Education will appoint someone to fill it.