Marietta Johnson Organic School could face closure


The Marietta Johnson School for Organic Education could face closure this week.

Issues between school leadership and the board of trustees for the endowment that helps fund the school are at the center of a dispute, which includes questions about alleged misuse of funds.

On Wednesday, Dec. 13, the board of trustees for the endowment will meet to discuss whether funds will be dispersed to the school.

According to the school’s director, Jessie Patterson, the board of trustees has withheld regular monthly distributions of trust income since April, funds that Patterson said the school relies on to cover basic operating expenses and pay its staff.

Patterson said he and remaining school staff have “forged ahead in good faith” in operating the school with money made available through student tuition and donations, but the trust income was necessary for the school to continue operations.

“If the Board of Trustees does not vote to release the funds that they have been withholding since April, the school will be no longer be able to operate,” Patterson said in a press release.

According to multiple sources, some of the trustees’ concerns about releasing the funds stem from Patterson’s leadership of the school, including multiple staff firings that have occurred under his tenure as director and alleged misuse of funds.

“One staff member was fired seemingly for questioning why another staff member had been laid off, which is problematic at best,” one source said. “Another staff member was fired while her child was sitting in the room with her, which also gives a number of concerns.”

The board of trustees meeting will take place on Dec. 13 at 9 a.m. at 8335 Gayfer Road Extension in Fairhope. The public is invited to attend.