HALIFAX COUNTY (WTVD) -- The Halifax County Board of Education voted 4-0 Thursday to reinstate Dr. Elease Frederick as superintendent, three days after firing her.
The three board members who met in closed session Monday and voted 2-1 to oust Frederick, were not present at Thursday's open session meeting where a large crowd overflowed into the hallway of the district's central office.
After enthusiastically thanking the board members and those in attendance for welcoming her back into the fold, Frederick told ABC11 she was caught off guard by Monday's vote for her immediate dismissal and that the board's chair wasn't aware it would happen.
"We were just stunned," Frederick said. "Stunned. It's been out there before for dismissal or recommendation for termination or resignation but never to this degree."
Frederick explained the effort was led by board member Charles Hedgepeth who has called into question many times throughout Frederick's tenure, the validity of her contract.
"You've seen the documentation," Frederick said. "I don't understand what's wrong with it. The attorney drew the contract up and went through the proper channels so I just don't understand it."
This infighting on the board isn't the first misstep by Halifax County school leaders.
The district has been under intense scrutiny at the state level since a 2009 court ruling that found students weren't receiving a sound, basic education; administrators were mandated to take steps to improve the county's record of student achievement.
Then in August 2015, the board was found to be undermining quality teachers and principals, so the NC State Board of Education tightened the reins on Halifax Schools, requiring state oversight of all decisions regarding its budget, student placement, and personnel; right now, all employment actions are supposed to be approved by the State BOE.
Frederick said she got a call Tuesday from State Superintendent Dr. June Atkinson telling her she had the support of North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and could expect to be reinstated at Thursday's open session meeting.
"I'm just elated to be back in Halifax," said Frederick. "I didn't know I was going to leave! Just pleased to be back and pleased to be be able to focus again on the children. Halifax is my heart. I grew up in Halifax. I've always been a supporter of Halifax. And I love working in this district. And I do want to go out on a positive note- June 2016. That has always been the goal and everybody knows that goal."
Frederick plans to retire June 30, 2016.
Until then, Frederick said she'll continue working with members of the board to improve student achievement in their district.