A five year old clerical error has resulted in an unexpected temporary vacancy on the Pontotoc City School District Board of Trustees, but school officials have taken steps to rectify the situation.

Pontotoc City School Superintendent Dr. Michelle Bivens issued the following statement on Wednesday, February 12, from the Pontotoc City School Board of Trustees, Board Attorney and Superintendent.

"Late last week, it was brought to the attention of the Superintendent Dr. Michelle Bivens and Board Attorney Phil Tutor, that the Pontotoc City School District Board of Trustees potentially had a member whose term had expired.

"Bivens and Tutor immediately began researching the term of the member in question. They discovered that at the time Board Member Frankie Moorman began his term in January 2015, his term was recorded as expiring December 31, 2020, rather than December 31, 2019."

"Bivens communicated with the circuit clerk and counsel at the Secretary of State and the Attorney General’s Offices to determine next steps. It was confirmed that Moorman’s term had expired and should have been on the November 2019 ballot. Due to the recording error, Pontotoc County Circuit Clerk/County Registrar Melinda Nowicki was not notified of the term ending in December 2019 and no candidates attempted to qualify for the Pontotoc Municipal Separate School District during the qualifying period."

"As a result, an unexpected vacancy occurred as a matter of law. Mississippi law does not allow for a special election due to an unanticipated vacancy of a board seat such as this one.”

"MS Code 37-7-203 requires that the unexpected vacancy be filled through an appointment by the municipality’s governing authority, the Pontotoc City Board of Aldermen, until a special election can be held during the next general election (November 2020). The person appointed by the Board of Alderman will serve from the date of appointment until the November 2020 election results are certified. The board member elected during the November 2020 general election will hold office for the remainder of the unexpired term which ends December 31, 2024."

"We regret this mistake was made for the district, the board, the member involved, and the community. At this point we can only be honest, apologize to our stakeholders, and carry out the steps outlined for us by law. We have full faith the city will appoint someone with the students' best interest at heart. We have taken all necessary precautions to ensure that we provide accurate term information to City and County officials moving forward,” the statement concluded.

Pontotoc Mayor Bob Peeples said last week that the Pontotoc Board of Aldermen will meet tomorrow night, Thursday, February 20, at 6 p.m. and appointment of someone to fill the vacancy will be on the board’s meeting agenda.

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