‘People are grasping at straws’: Huntsville school board member on defense

Huntsville school board member on defense

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - She’s one of the most vocal school board members for Huntsville City Schools.

However, questions are growing louder about Pam Hill, specifically, if she actually lives in the district she represents.

District 5 school board member Hill is known for speaking her mind and she’s now having to speak up as to where she lives, as some question if she’s truly representing the families and students of her district.

According to state law, Huntsville school board members must live in the school district they serve.

When we requested personnel records from the school board's attorney, Pam Hill's physical address on file is listed within her district.

Her home in Tennessee is not listed.

WAFF 48 News spoke with former school board candidate Carlos Mathews, the same person who ran against Hill in 2016 and lost.

In front of us, the deed to Pam Hill's home in the mountains of Cosby, Tennessee she bought nearly a year ago.

"You voted for someone to represent you that's from your district. That is the whole purpose of having boots on the ground that live in the district, that have your best interest. If you don't live in the district and you live in a completely different state, how could you have the best interest of the people you represent," said Mathews.

A clause in the Tennessee deed of trust says it’s their “principal residence”

We also sat down with Pam Hill for her take.

"I do live in this house and I do live in this district and you do not have to own the home you live in, you don't have to," said Hill.

Hill admits she doesn’t own a home in Huntsville anymore. She said she sold it and moved in with her in-laws, still in District 5.

Hill said the home in Tennessee is their retirement home.

"I've been asked these questions for a year, it's getting ridiculous, it's invading the privacy of my in-laws who are graciously allowing us to live here until we can retire. My mail comes here, I vote here, I've voted two times from this address already. All I have to do legally is have my driver's license with this address which it is and this is my home," explained Hill.

Hill said add this to the list of attacks she'd had to fend off before. Earlier this year, the board ended up in mediation after a failed attempt to censure her.

And last year, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle sent Hill a letter highlighting her behavior.

According to the Alabama Election Handbook, upon election, you must continue to reside within the town or city limits for the term of the office.

A rule Hill says she's following but Mathews doesn't buy it.

"If you're going to represent your district, you need to live in the district, that's part of the rules. Her big thing is transparency, this is not transparent at all."

"I don't know why people are grasping at straws to get rid of me unless they don't like transparency. I'm here but when I can go to the Smokey mountains, I'm going to the Smokey mountains. Do I visit it, yeah a lot but I've been in every one of my schools, I answer every email," added Hill.

Mathews added that the school system physically checks on students to make sure they're living in the district, why not check school board members.

We reached out to the school board attorney, JR Brooks for comment. In a statement he says, I represent the board members in their official capacity, I'm not in a position to answer any questions about the residence of any board member. My assumption is that they all live within their districts.

Hill says she has no plans to run for school board again. Her current term ends October 2020.

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