Earlier in the meeting, Huff accused Fort of lying to the public during board meetings.
The attacks on Fort followed his attacks on successful board candidate Jennifer Martucci prior to the election when he released the contents of a private e-mail sent to him by Martucci during redistricting of the R-8 middle schools.
Huff tried to brand Martucci as an elitist who only cares about kids if they live on the right side of the tracks.
The attack backfired on Huff as Martucci collected more votes than her two opponents, Nancy Good and Melinda Campbell, combined.
Though there was a brief verbal attack on Fort early in the meeting, Huff's latest temper tantrum occurred after Fort had noted the district's declining test scores.
"Here's our charge," Fort said. "Every student learns in every subject every day no matter what and we're not doing that. We've steadily gone downhill in the last five or six years."
Huff lashed out. "I've got to intercede at that point. You were principal in that building (Irving Elementary) for a lot of years and the last 10 years of your career, you were the poorest performing principal in our district."
While Fort sat stoically and did not respond, the newly-elected Martucci said, "That is inappropriate."
Huff condescendingly responded, "Jennifer, I need to talk."
"That's inappropriate," Martucci again said.
"It's a fact," Huff snapped.
"You need to be respectful. Please be respectful."
Huff did not heed her advice. "I've watched the district be tore (sic) down for the last two years through comments she has made that are not true. Absolutely not true."
As he usually does when he is the one who is being criticized, Huff tried to make Fort's comments sound as if they were attacks on teachers and principals. "I want to defend our hard working teachers and staff who have done the right thing. I've got the best team of principals I have ever had since I've been here and it's all about teamwork."
Huff proceeded to continue his attack against Fort, accusing her of "doing the same thing" when she was a principal and being a troublemaker.
"It's a fact," Huff said, apparently believing that if he said it was a fact that people might think it was so.
Martucci asked the question that most of those at the meeting or watching it on TV or online wanted to ask. "What are you talking about?"
"What I'm talking about," Huff said, again adopting a patronizing tone toward a women questioner, "is the same type of things we're seeing here. It's behind the scenes work."
"For example?" Martucci asked.
"Like right now, text messaging. You've been reading text messages all night. From whom? This is a public meeting, it's a public record." Huff did not seem to see the irony in taking the same stance that he had taken in his ill-advised Facebook attack on Martucci when he claimed her two-year-old personal e-mail to him, which included information about her children, was public record.
"I think the news media in this room has a right to ask who's running the meeting here."
Though he never said the words, Huff appeared to be implying that these little women couldn't be causing him problems. They had to be taking their orders from some man via text messages.
Fort did not respond, but Martucci, attending her first meeting, noted that she had exchanged text messages with her children about what they were going to have for dinner.
Huff didn't back down. "That's an open record."
When he finished the prolonged verbal assault, Fort responded, speaking calmly in direct contrast to her accuser.She said that what Huff had said about her test scores "wasn't true. I can show you the scores."
Turning to Huff, she asked, "If I was such a horrible principal, why did you allow me to run summer school? Every summer I had to set up a school of 3,000 students."
Huff did not respond.
Fort began citing statistics of the changes that have occurred since the days when the Joplin R-8 School District was accredited with distinction four years in a row. Scores have fallen since that time.
Huff blamed the tornado, noted that he and his team had other things to worry about other than standardized test scores. "Our leadership has been focused where it needed to be focused."
At that point, Ryan Jackson, who was seated in the audience, asked, "How is it appropriate for a superintendent to criticize a board member?"
Huff responded, "This is a conversation that needed to be held."
Martucci replied, "It didn't need to be held." The back-and-forth had occurred during a discussion on who would be board president. Martucci reminded Huff, "This is a board vote, not a superintendent vote."
The third female board member, Lynda Banwart, might have become board president, if she had simply stepped in and told Huff something similar to what Martucci said, but she failed to stand up as Huff badgered her female colleague.
For anyone who may think this is recent behavior, Huff's problems with Fort started when she first decided to run for the Board of Education.
In the May 17, 2014, Turner Report, I wrote the following:
Right before the election, .C. J. Huff paid a visit to the Jasper County Collector's office where he checked on any records having to do with Debbie Fort. She had to be hiding something.
She received more votes than any other candidate.
"I can't work with that woman," C. J. told a board member, who has been a solid supporter of the superintendent since he arrived six years ago.
"You are going to have to work with her, C. J. You need to man up."
As he heard those words coming from an unexpected source, C. J. Huff's face turned beet red.
One year has passed and the treatment that C. J. Huff has displayed during that time to both Fort and Martucci and his efforts to manipulate two straight elections, including some face-to-face confrontations in public settings (not board meetings) with the two women, would seem to indicate that Huff is uncomfortable with strong, assertive women.
During the past year, former board member Jim Kimbrough asked several pointed questions of Huff and his administrative team during board meetings. Not once did Kimbrough go through the type of bullying tactics that Huff has tried on Fort and Martucci.
It must be easier to attack women when it's "for the kids."