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School board to choose

By Trina Trice

The Clayton County Board of Education will vote soon on who will control the voice of the school system.

In documents obtained by the News Daily, the school system has narrowed down its search for a Coordinator of Public Affairs to three candidates who have been interviewed by a select group of school administrators that included interim Superintendent Dr. William Chavis.

The Coordinator of Public Affairs acts as a spokesperson for the school system and supervises the design and maintenance of various media used by the district, such as television and printing services, and the school system newsletter.

The salary range for the position is between $63,411.96 and $107,943.60.

The final three candidates are Keyra Lynn Johnson, general manager of internal/corporate communications for Delta Air Lines; Ronnie Dewayne Wilson, case investigator for the Centers for Disease Control, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry; and Paul Kraack, formerly the Coordinator of Public Affairs for Clayton County Schools.

According to a posting of the vacancy, the qualifications required for the position include a baccalaureate degree; minimum of two years experience in education or public relations; working knowledge of photography, graphics, and audiovisual productions; and proven record of working well with professional personnel and within related professional organizations.

Johnson has climbed the ranks at Delta Air Lines, starting out as a Customer Service Agent in 1994.

Johnson is a graduate of Georgia State University, receiving a bachelor's degree in speech communication. Johnson had, at one point, served as a certified tutor for Clayton County Schools.

Wilson has an Army background, having served in various capacities, such as Public Affairs Officer, Community Relations Officer and Photographic Officer.

Wilson received his bachelor's degree in Journalism/Radio-TV from Arkansas State University in 1970, a law degree from Woodrow Wilson College of Law in 1978, and a master's degree in administration from Central Michigan University in 1993.

Kraack had been a Clayton County Schools teacher for 11 years before he became the school system's spokesman. Kraack taught social studies at Morrow High School, eventually becoming the department Chair of social studies.

Kraack received a bachelor's degree in political science and philosophy from Ball State University in 1972 and a master's degree in education from Columbus State University in 2000.

The position became vacant when Kraack was transferred following the ousting of former Superintendent Dan Colwell.

The school board fired Colwell at a Jan. 13 meeting. After Colwell accused the board of acting illegally, they later suspended Colwell with pay pending a hearing where reasons were to be given to explain the necessity of his removal.

The hearing never took place.

In a February called meeting, the board and Colwell reached an agreement that included his resignation and a $232,000 buyout for Colwell.

During one of those meetings, Board Chairwoman Nedra Ware accused Colwell of leaking information to the media, specifically referring to various media outlets obtaining videotaped copies of the Jan. 13 meeting.

Following that meeting, Kraack was transferred and all videotaping of board meetings was halted.

Kraack currently works as the administrative assistant for the Evening School, the same post held by Chavis prior to his appointment as interim Superintendent.

With Kraack gone, the Public Affairs Department had to depend on Communications Assistant Jerry Jackson to keep it going.

Jackson was never given an official, temporary title while performing some of the duties Kraack had formerly done.

At a press conference held by Ware, Board Vice Chairwoman Connie Kitchens, and Board member Carol Kellam, Ware expressed displeasure at Jackson's performance.

"No one is authorized, including Mr. Jerry Jackson, to speak for the board," Ware said. "Mr. Jackson has not been approved in the position as acting Public Affairs Director. At present we do not have a Public Affairs Director. Any information obtained from Mr. Jackson, to date, has not been reflective of the board's views."

Jackson was present at the press conference.

Since then, however, Jackson was given the responsibility of posting notices about the school board's Superintendent search.

Jackson applied for the Coordinator of Public Affairs position, but he did not make the final cut.

While attempts to contact Johnson and Wilson were unsuccessful, Kraack said he is hopeful of what he could do for the school system if reinstated.

Kraack said he applied for the position "because I felt as though that was a position I needed to be in, that I was really destined to do. I didn't leave" the position "because I wanted to."

"I don't have any reservations about being in a position where my job is to inform the public about the quality of our teachers and our schools. I know what it takes to do the job."

Kraack said he'd like to be a part of the healing process from the many scandals that have plagued the school system since Colwell's removal.

The school board could vote on the interim Superintendent's recommendation for the Coordinator of Public Affairs at its April 14 meeting.