School Board President and Pastor Marcus Cathey likely broke the law with his church’s long term personal use of school facility.

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Hattiesburg Public School Board President and Pastor of West Point Baptist Church

Hattiesburg Public School Board President and Pastor of West Point Baptist Church

Give a man a fish and you'll feed him for a day. Give a man a position as president on the Hattiesburg Public School Board, and he might illegally use public property to build his church campus; and according to state statute, a Missisisppi Ethics Commission opinion, and the Mississippi Constitution, that's exactly what School Board President and Pastor Marcus Cathey has done.

Cathey advertises a school owned building as his church's campus. Click to enlarge

School Board President and Pastor, Marcus Cathey, advertises a school owned building as his church's campus. The address listed is the address for the Transploreum building at N.R. Burger Middle School. Click to enlarge

 

For many, many months, Cathey has regularly used the newly constructed Transploreum Building at N.R. Burger Middle School each Sunday at 10:00 am in order to grow his church's congregation.  It goes even beyond that, however. Cathey is so bold that he advertises the school building's address on his church website as being his church's "Tatum drive campus."  Cathey is self identified on Facebook as being "self employed," and he is the sole incorporator of his church's non profit, according to the Secretary of State's website.

School Board President and Pastor of West Point Baptist Church is the sole owner of the non profit using the school's facility to hold services.

School Board President and Pastor of West Point Baptist Church is the sole owner of the non profit using the school's facility to hold services.

 

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The N.R. Burger Middle School Transploreum is the public buiding Cathey claims as his church's campus.

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Title 25 - PUBLIC OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES; PUBLIC RECORDS
Chapter 4 - ETHICS IN GOVERNMENT
Article 3 - CONFLICT OF INTEREST; IMPROPER USE OF OFFICE
§ 25-4-105 - Certain actions, activities and business relationships prohibited or authorized; contracts in violation of section voidable; penalties

(1) No public servant shall use his official position to obtain, or attempt to obtain, pecuniary benefit for himself other than that compensation provided for by law, or to obtain, or attempt to obtain, pecuniary benefit for any relative or any business with which he is associated.

(2) No public servant shall be interested, directly or indirectly, during the term for which he shall have been chosen, or within one (1) year after the expiration of such term, in any contract with the state, or any district, county, city or town thereof, authorized by any law passed or order made by any board of which he may be or may have been a member.

Section 109, Miss. Const. of 1890: Public Officer Interest in Contracts Prohibited
No public officer or member of the legislature shall be interested, directly or indirectly, in any contract with the state, or any district, county, city, or town thereof, authorized by any law passed or order made by any board of which he may be or may have been a member, during the term for which he shall have been chosen, or within one year after the expiration of such term.

westpoint church

School Board President and Pastor, Marcus Caffey has operated outside of the boundaries of accepted ethics according to a Mississippi Ethics Opinion.

A Mississippi Ethics Commission addressed the matter in a ruling, which stated:

Constitutional Section 109 and §25-4-105(2) prohibit a school district from leasing a building to a not-for-profit organization if one of its trustees remains an employee of the not-for-profit organization regardless of whether the trustee recuses from the board of trustees’ decision to lease the building to the not-for-profit organization. The prohibition against leasing the building to the not-for-profit organization remains in effect during the trustee’s term on the board of trustees and for one year after the trustee leaves the board of trustees.

With a school district under reorganization due to failing schools, a human resource director, Carmen Anderson, who pleaded guilty to illegal voting, and now the school board president using public facilities for personal gain, it's no wonder why our district is declining in size and ranking. The leadership at the top seems more interested in furthering themselves than in doing what's best for Hattiesburg's children.

From all appearances, Mr. Cathey is engaged in a long term lease relationship with the very school district he is tasked with overseeing, and advertising a public school building as his own church campus. Not surprisingly, never once did Cathey's likely improper or even illegal use of the facility come up for discussion with the board or board attorney, Percy Watson. The board and it's attorney have known about this relationship, and they did nothing to enforce the law and the ethical standards that we expect from a board that serves the public's trust.

The entire school board is beginning to resemble unethical cronies, who are too weak to speak out against wrongdoing and criminals working within the administration.  This reflects on the entire Board of Trustees. They themselves are complicit in the schemes and criminality in the administration by looking the other way.

Ross Barnett once so aptly said,

When you can't trust a trustee who can you trust?

**Note - The Hattiesburg Patriot made numerous calls and sent Facebook messages to Marcus Cathey for a comment. No calls were returned and no responses were received.

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43 thoughts on “School Board President and Pastor Marcus Cathey likely broke the law with his church’s long term personal use of school facility.

  1. Linda Walters

    Nobody who works in the HPSD is qualified to be Superintendent. There must be a clean break with the past, or the same connections will do the same thing again. At some point the School Board will have to change because there is no reason for this disaster NOT to happen again.

    1. Wayne Archer

      The school board is responsible for allowing this to happen. Marcus Cathey said they should have watched the fund balance closer…that is correct, but they also should not have allowed the unbridled spending and hiring unneeded personnel due to cronyism. Clean house and start over, especially with the Superintendent.

  2. Christie Cargill Capps

    How about we go outside the box! Inside the box is clearly not working. Out with the old in with the new. New vision, morals, ideas etc. It is time for Hattiesburg to do what is best for children not someone’s social status or bank account.

  3. Wayne Archer

    Are there any white applicants? Almost everyone that Dupree has hired in the city have been black persons. Sounds a little discriminatory to me. Skin color doesn’t matter, but cronyism does.

  4. Dale McVeay

    People who profess to be Pastors seem to be a problem in our community. Seems they can’t keep their hands off other peoples money and properties. Of course when your tight with the Mayor, little things like laws can be overlooked.

  5. Rachel Smith

    This is why we have a “Community in Schools” department that handles all the non school district usage of our school properties, and requires insurance for those who use them(for student extracurriculars) or rent them(like churches.)

  6. Bill Morgan

    This entire thread is a perfect demonstration of how people base their opinions on EMOTION rather than facts. The statute is clear & unambiguous. As a member of the Board, the pastor cannot lease the facility. End of story.

  7. Angela Snyder Brown

    The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled twice in favor of the use of public school buildings by religious and political groups. It is not out of the ordinary for a church to take advantage of a large school facility and low rent. Schools are not legally allowed to discriminate against against any group based on ideology but can set set parameters on when the facility is used & even prohibit certain church/religious activities such as dinners, use of candles & even baptisms.

  8. Aaron Ryals

    If his church is renting the facility then I don’t see the problem. How else are the people looking for it supposed to know where to go if he doesn’t list the address. Churches have rented school auditoriums for years to meet in. Nothing illegal about this unless he isn’t paying rent

  9. Carstel Felder

    Are you guys serious right now? This page/article appears to be really thirsty for news and attention. Please try to print and or publish articles that are news worthy. This is not. Pastor Marcus Cathey is a man of business and order. Psalm 105:15 “Do not touch my anointed ones, and do My prophet no harm.”

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