As the imbroglio continues, I wonder why am I so fascinated by the soap opera unfolding in Clayton County, Georgia? I do not live there, I do not know any children/families who live there.
But the School Board sinks deeper into the quagmire. When last I wrote, the School Board considered firing their attorney because he advised them to resign (sound advise). Instead of firing him, the Board chose to hire a superintendent against all advise and indications from the Accrediting Agency (the folks who will pull their accreditation on September 1 if 9 criteria are not accomplished) and their appointed advisers from from the State School Board. The people who will take the school’s accreditation told the Board not to hire the candidate. Is none of these people rational?
Following the superintendent selection, their attorney fired the Board as clients (Amen!). Also in controversy at this meeting, the procedural rules may have been violated when the Board offered the contract to this man. The AJC filed a grievance about the rules violation. (Why aren’t citizens filing complaints?) Also, the chair of the Board is stepping down in few days due to an alleged romantic controversy: possible inappropriate contact with an employee of the school board. (Is this really happening or did I just turn on “As the World Follows the Guiding Light”?)
That was Thursday. Yesterday, while sitting in a class, I was drawn in yet again but statements published that this ‘new superintendent’ intended to take over Monday morning to get things turned around…But was he legally hired? At that point, no one on the Board seemed to care.
Today. Today’s report compels me to write about this AGAIN. The link is below if you’re interested.
My humble attempt at a summary follows: Someone said that the board scheduled a Saturday special meeting. Board policy requires public notice of such meetings. Meetings can only be called by Board chair or by superintendent. Neither person takes credit for calling such meeting. The attorney (presumably with different responsibilities than the attorney who fired the board) and vice chair “refused to say who called the meeting” per the AJC article. A board member said the Vice Chair called the meeting in an effort to rectify the problem with the vote to hire the superintendent. Also, there was an unpublished meeting on Thursday. Also, the two State School Board members appointed to guide and advise the County School board announced in the paper that accreditation cannot be saved (throwing their hands up and shaking their heads, I imagine).
Still why the fascination? This group could be a study on what not to do in government office. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), the accrediting body, listed one criteria for avoiding SACS’s imposed sanction as “following board policies and procedures” already in place. How is it that this Board cannot even schedule a meeting pursuant to its own policies and procedures? The Board voted to hire a superintendent without even placing the item on the agenda much less publishing the agenda item, and thereby notifying the public.
This group of elected officials lack the basic understanding (or perhaps care) for HOW government works in this state and in this country. For decades, citizens complained about smoky, backroom meetings where elected officials decided how “best” to run state and local governments. Open meetings and sunshine laws are in place to hold elected officials accountable: this Board wholly ignores those laws. These elected officials will decide what’s “best” in spite of sage advice and direct statements by SACS of how to avoid the School system being suspended.
State government needs to take action. The impact of this soap opera will have a ripple effect on the state. Fayette County (neighbor to Clayton) is already bracing for the unplanned overcrowding on September 1. Other counties would be advised to do the same.
This soap opera is entertaining to watch, but these people actually exist and this fiasco is actually happening. And all anyone can do, it seems, is sit in front of their newspaper, television or computer screen and watch.