Board stalled on search

By Trina Trice

The school board accomplished little at its August meeting Monday night.

The Clayton County Board of Education was set to vote on issues that had been looming from previous meetings, such as adopting the Georgia School Boards Association Standards, using the GSBA in the review and updating of its policies and contracting with the GSBA for the re-launch of its national superintendent search.

Bogged down by discussion, however, members couldn't push any issues involving the GSBA through for voting.

Some board members did not get information on the GSBA search contract, according to board Chairwoman Nedra Ware. Ware suggested the vote on the contract be changed.

Some residents appeared frustrated and tired following the meeting.

"What a waste," said Clayton County resident Jan Brinegar, who attended the meeting Monday night. "I'm just very frustrated. The superintendent search is the most important thing they need to do."

The board agreed to vote on the contract at a public hearing scheduled Aug. 14 that is also functioning as a called meeting.

To help remedy the search contract delay board member Ericka Davis suggested board members with questions present them to board Attorney Gary Sams prior to the Aug. 14 hearing.

The board voted to table negotiations with the GSBA for a review and updating of its policies. It also tabled adopting GSBA Standards, which are suggested principles of good practice to improve the effectiveness of school board governance.

The board voted unanimously to begin negotiations with the GSBA for its national superintendent search at a called meeting in July in an attempt to follow GSBA Parliamentarian Dr. Charles Gibson's recommendation.

The board met Gibson during a two-day retreat with the GSBA. Gibson offered his services for free because he felt the board could not move forward until it broke the "gridlock" it faced in the search process.

Gibson told the board it would definitely need to start its search for a superintendent from scratch.

Gibson concluded that the search, which began in April, was flawed.

"It is my opinion that you should reopen your search for a national superintendent," Gibson told the board.

The board didn't see eye to eye on its videotaping policy Monday night.

An attempt by Ware and board member LaToya Walker to table a vote on changing the policy died when the board was split 4-4.

"There is some confusion among board members of what the policy says," Sams said to the board. "We want the board to make a decision on true intent. Put the video policy on the table and discuss it next month."

The controversy of changing the policy followed the airing of participation of visitors, a portion not believed to be representative of board business by some members.

Videotaping had been the source of controversy when it was halted earlier this year and then reinstated in June.

However, Ware and Vice Chairwoman Connie Kitchens sent a memorandum to Jackie Hubbert, assistant superintendent of Area 1 schools, ordering her to stop the airing of a called meeting during which some members walked out. Hubbert was left in charge of the school system while Chavis and acting Deputy Superintendent Bill Horton attended the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders Conference on Jekyll Island.

Ware contended that the airing of the meeting violated policy because it showed more than "business portions" of the meeting.

Livingston argued that the videotape had been edited n portions of the participation of visitors were removed n something the policy does not allow.

The policy states that regular business meetings of the board will be videotaped and periodically broadcast on the district's public access cable channel.

In other business:

* The board did not decide how it will implement a new state law giving school boards the authority to make their own policy governing whether or not students can possess cell phones and pagers in school.

Davis suggested students be given use at 3:30 for after-school activities. Ware did not agree.

"As an educator how do we regulate (the new rule)?" Ware asked. "I don't know if we're opening a Pandora's box. I would not want a pager or a phone going off in the classroom."

Walker suggested the Policy Committee conduct a Web survey that will ask the community what it thinks about the issue.

Currently, schools do not allow students to carry cell phones, according to Jerry Jackson, acting public relations coordinator. Students caught with cell phones will have them confiscated during school hours.

* The board approved the construction bid from HITT Construction Inc. for the building of Middle School No. 5, which will be behind Harper Elementary School on Valley Hill Road.

* The board approved the selling of a surplus school bus, more than 10 years old, to the Forest Park Police Department.

* The board approved the assignment of Enika Bryant, formerly a consultative special education teacher at Callaway Elementary School, to assistant principal at Pointe South Middle School.