Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors-Ware meeting off

By Trina Trice

Clayton County Board of Education Chairwoman Nedra Ware and members of the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors won't be meeting any time soon.

Efforts to set up a meeting with Ware have stalled as of Friday afternoon, according to Shane Moody, CEO and president of the Chamber.

Members on the Chamber board extended an olive branch to Ware in response to a letter she sent Moody.

The letter was her response to the Chamber's call for her resignation, as well as that of school Board Vice Chairwoman Connie Kitchens, and members Carol Kellam and LaToya Walker.

In her letter, Ware requests a meeting with the Chamber:

"I would like to brief the Chamber regarding the issues surrounding the discharge of the former superintendent and the appointment of a new one. I would also like an opportunity to discuss the SACS study with the Chamber."

Chamber Board Chair-elect Pete Meadows thought Ware's request for a meeting was appropriate.

"She wanted to express her side," Meadows said.

The Chamber sent, via fax and registered mail, a letter that proposed a meeting date for either July 7 at 10 a.m. or July 8 at the same time.

Ware called the Chamber, telling them the dates were inconvenient.

"We then offered her an opportunity to give us dates," Moody said. "By the end of the day Friday she said she would send a response."

As of Monday, Ware had not responded.

"It's disappointing to us," Moody said. "We were looking forward to meeting with her. We were acknowledging her request. We were looking forward for her sharing her thoughts with us."

Meadows and fellow Board member Geoff Fulton also hoped to meet with Ware.

The Rev. Wesley Greene, president of the Association of Black Christian Ministers in Clayton County, demanded an apology from the Chamber, saying its stance was not fair to the four board members.

"I was a little disappointed," Meadows said. "They saw it as a personal attack. It wasn't an attack on any individual, but on the lack of leadership skills. Our concern is with the school system in how it relates to the health of Clayton County, in terms of economic development."

As for any racial motivation behind the Chamber's stance, which some Ware-Kitchens supporters have suggested, Meadows said, "I laughed (when he heard the accusation). It's clouding the real issue."

The Chamber's stance is based on facts, not personal vendettas or racial prejudice.

"I'm results oriented," Fulton said. "The facts speak for themselves. Since they've taken over, the school system's been placed on probation, there is a 24 percent teacher turnover. Our response was based totally on the results of their leadership. We're the only school system in Georgia that's on probation. It's not fair to our students or teachers."