Alabama superintendent resigns amidst investigation of ‘death notebook’

"The investigation being conducted will affirm that I did not know of the 'death notebook' prior to September 21st of 2022," former Trussville City Schools Superintendent Dr. Pattie Neill wrote in her resignation letter.

The former Superintendent of Trussville City Schools Dr. Pattie Neill stepped down from her position on Tuesday after months of discussion regarding several controversial threats made against Hewitt-Trussville High and Middle school.

One of those threats came in the form of a “death notebook,” a list of 37 Hewitt-Trussville High School students who the student author wanted to harm in descriptive detail, such as “death by AK-47” and “death by ants.”

Upon discovering the notebook, parents were concerned about how the threat had been handled by the school’s administration. It was revealed that the school’s principal, Tim Salem, first became aware of the notebook in October of 2021 and kept it hidden in his desk instead of reporting it, as the student claimed it was “pure fantasy.”

“During the interview, the student explained to Mr. Salem and the counselor that the notebook was based on a Japanese anime show called Death Notebook,” said Kim DeShazo, vice president of the Trussville City Board of Education in a message to families. “The student claimed the notebook was pure fantasy and stated that some students had actually written their own names in the notebook.”

Neill was placed on administrative leave on Sept. 30. Her contract was originally scheduled to run until June 30, 2026. She will continue to be paid by Trussville City Schools until Oct. 31, 2023, but will no longer be superintendent, reported.

“It provides us an opportunity to move forward; it provides us an opportunity to have a fresh start,” said DeShazo. “I am looking forward to our city being in the news for the things that we have to celebrate because Trussville City Schools does have a lot to celebrate and a lot to be thankful for…. I’m looking forward to that next chapter.”

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The independent investigation into the notebook will be completed in a few more weeks, WBRC 6 reported. Neill, in a message to parents, said it will become clear that she wasn’t aware of the threat until it came to light on Sept. 21.

“I believe this is the perfect time for new leadership to continue the mission of Trussville City Schools, and I have decided to step down in my duties as superintendent,” she wrote. “Also, the investigation being conducted will affirm that I did not know of the ‘death notebook’ prior to September 21st of 2022. I love Trussville and I wish the very best for Trussville City Schools in the future.”

Micah Ward
Micah Ward
Micah Ward is a District Administration staff writer. He recently earned his master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Alabama. He spent his time during graduate school working on his master’s thesis. He’s also a self-taught guitarist who loves playing folk-style music.

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