Charleston native Marvell Hudson is to be the new superintendent of the East Tallahatchie School District and was present in an unofficial capacity at the June 9 regular monthly meeting of the district’s Board of Trustees.
For reasons uncertain, as of late Tuesday, the board had not formally announced Hudson’s hiring. One item on last Thursday night’s printed agenda, copies of which were available to the public, gave it away. Among items set to be discussed in executive session was adding “new Superintendent Marvell Hudson to all depository accounts.”
One source with knowledge of the matter said Hudson signed a two-year contract with an annual base salary exceeding $90,000.
The hiring of Hudson had been rumored for weeks, but on several occasions when asked, ETSD board President Darrell Neal has declined comment except to say the board would be releasing a statement on the matter to The Sun-Sentinel. As of Tuesday, no school board statement had been issued, and Neal did not immediately respond Tuesday afternoon to a message left on his phone requesting comment.
ETSD school board minutes reviewed by The Sun-Sentinel from meetings held in April and May did not reveal a superintendent vote, but on Friday (June 17), The Sun-Sentinel received revised minutes for the April 26 called special meeting of the board. The following new paragraph, not present when the April 26 minutes were initially approved by the board president and secretary and made available to the public, had been inserted: "A motion was made to approve Mr. Marvell Hudson as the upcoming Superintendent by Bryant Watson. A second was made by Tameka McIntyre. All in favor. No votes against. The motion carried."
— * —
Hudson, 52, was observed sitting off to himself on the front row of the audience, taking notes at last week’s board meeting.
When the board voted to enter executive session, thus closing the public portion of the meeting, Hudson left the boardroom along with other members of the public.
Approached after he had exited the district’s administrative building, Hudson declined comment.
Hudson will succeed Johnnie L. Vick, 56, who is stepping down as superintendent on June 30, at the close of his first year on the job. In early May, Vick cited “family issues” as the reason for his exodus midway through a two-year contract paying him a base of $97,000.
Hudson had been a finalist for the position before Vick was hired in 2021 following the three-year tenure of Dr. Darron Edwards. Many supporters of Hudson championed his hiring over Vick and two other finalists and were outspoken when the locally connected school official was passed over for the job. The board noted that Vick was the only candidate with prior superintendent experience.
As a former employee of the East and West Tallahatchie school districts, Hudson has held various positions within Tallahatchie County’s schools, including classroom teacher, assistant principal and principal, serving a lengthy stint on the staff of R.H. Bearden Elementary School in Sumner.
In 2015, when Dr. Ben Kennedy was named ETSD superintendent, Hudson was elevated from assistant principal at Charleston High School to a district office position, where he assumed Kennedy’s duties as district special education director.
As part of that transition, Hudson was named ETSD assistant district superintendent, becoming the first African American to hold such a high administrative position within the system.
— * —
Hudson, a 1988 graduate of Charleston High School, is the son of the late Mrs. Dora Mae Hudson-Brown and Walter Griffin.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a master’s degree in Special Education from Mississippi Valley State University, later receiving a specialist degree in Educational Leadership from Union University in Germantown, Tennessee.
Hudson holds a Master of Theology in Christian Studies from Union University.
A member of the National Speakers Association, Hudson is a sought-after motivational speaker and has been the CEO of a Mississippi-based consulting company specializing in motivational services for Head Start centers, K-12 schools, colleges and universities, community action agencies and small businesses.
Hudson has served as master of order for the mayor’s charity ball in Charleston, helped to organize and was a speaker for several National Charleston Day Organization Humility Day events in the community and has served in many other local civic capacities.
— * —
The new superintendent inherits a difficult situation.
In 2019, for a second straight year, ETSD graded F in state accountability ratings. Individually, both Charleston Elementary and Charleston Middle schools likewise were F-rated. Charleston High was a D.
After three straight years as a failing district, the state can swoop in and take control of school operations at the local level.
Due to COVID-19, MDE ruled that 2020 and 2021 standardized state test results would not officially count, granting a reprieve to districts, like ETSD, that were on the bubble.
During this 2021-22 school session, however, state tests and other factors, such as meeting state accreditation standards for schools, will once again be used to assign a binding accountability rating.
The latest ratings, based on tests taken this past school year, are expected to be unveiled in coming months.
Meanwhile, a news story by Mississippi Today Wednesday reported that an application to establish a public charter school that would operate in the East Tallahatchie district area has advanced before the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board. The proposal is now in Stage 2 of the application process. Resilience Development Corporation is seeking authorization to open a charter school by the 2003-2004 school year that would initially serve students in K-1 and, eventually, K-5.
This story was updated June 17 to include a paragraph about the new availability of revised minutes from the April 26, 2022, called special meeting of the ETSD school board.