The former superintendent of the Pulaski County Special School District — Charles Hopson — died on Tuesday, Oct. 9 around 4 p.m. at Baylor University Hospital in Dallas.
Two former school board members, Tim Clark, of Maumelle and Mildred Tatum, of Little Rock confirmed the report.
A native of Stephens in rural southern Arkansas, Hopson was working as a principal in the Houston, Texas school district.
He was hired as superintendent of the district here in April, 2010 and the state took over the district and fired him just a little over 16 months later.
Clark said Hopson was a finalist to be superintendent of the Tulsa School District and had just called him two days ago to ask if he would be a reference for that job. He said he was in Dallas visiting his wife when he experienced heart problems, was hospitalized and his kidneys shut down and he was on life support earlier Tuesday but pronounced dead at 4 p.m.
Hospital chaplain Sherry McShen said she couldn’t confirm or deny his death. And added federal privacy laws prohibited her making any such announcement.
When Hopson was hired for Pulaski County, it was with great anticipation with his connections back to the state and a doctorate in hand. He had also earned national accolades for his efforts as the assistant superintendent in the Portland, Oregon school District.
But his joy is Little Rock was short-lived as controversy followed every move, as it had for other superintendents in the troubled district that is now under state control.
Clark said in spite of differences he and Hopson had from time to time, he had a great respect for the man.
"He had a heart for education and for all the children of this district and he tried hard to bring about change and install some programs that would give those students the talent they need to succeed in life."
"But it was those very efforts to improve our system that became controversial," Clark said.
"I cared for the man because he had a heart of gold. He died at an early age but his family can be proud of the children he helped along the way. How tragic to die of heart issues after him having such a heart for the children of Arkansas. He loved this state and really wanted to make a difference here. Unfortunately, we weren’t ready to make that change and it was that stress that got to him. I’ll miss him," Clark said.
Clark said he also just learned today from Hopson’s attorney that the federal courts had ruled this week that the Arkansas Department of Education had no authority to dismiss Hopson’s contract as superintendent and ordered the state to pay him according to his contract.
Details about Hopson’s funeral arrangements were not clear so soon after he died.