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The Trussville City Schools (TCS) Board of Education (BOE) has announced Frank Costanzo will be filling in as interim superintendent while Dr. Pattie Neill is on administrative leave following controversy over the recent "death notebook" incident.

Costanzo retired as superintendent from the Tuscaloosa School system in 2012 and has since served as an interim superintendent in four other school systems. When appointed Thursday evening, he addressed the public saying he is honored to work for a system as successful as Trussville City Schools.

“It is truly an honor and a privilege to be appointed tonight as your acting superintendent,” said Costanzo.

Superintendent Neill was put on leave after the BOE accepted her request for administrative leave following a scandal over a student’s “death notebook.”

During a special-called meeting, board members vowed to conduct a third-party investigation during the superintendent's 60-day absence to find out how the notebook went unreported for nearly a year while hidden inside the desk of Hewitt-Trussville High School principal Tim Salem.

Salem was placed on administrative leave as well after details of the notebook were released by the Trussville Police Department.

The notebook was first discovered in October 2021. It had 40 names of people, including 37 students, Joe Biden and Donald Trump, and their methods of death. At that time, Trussville Police Chief Eric Rush said the police department, which provides school resource officers for the school, was not notified. Furthermore, the parents of the children on the list were not notified until last week after the same student made a second threat.

The student, who is in 11th grade, was placed in an alternative school for 20 days.

Many of the parents have voiced concerns about the school system’s lack of communication. BOE members have since been given their own email addresses and have publicly thanked citizens for coming forward.

Costanzo said he will be accessible, open and transparent and will put the students first.

“You are why we’re here. You are the lifeblood of this school system,” Costanzo said to the students.

BOE members received names of possible candidates for interim superintendent from the Alabama Association of School Boards. Candidates were then interviewed by TCS board members.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email erica.thomas@1819news.com.

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