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Meeting ends without agreement

By Bob Paslay

A breakfast meeting that came dangerously close to violating the state's Open Meetings Law was held Tuesday morning in an effort, some might say, to put the Nedra Ware majority back together on the Clayton County Board of Education.

The latest twist in what has been a winding road of controversy apparently ended without any agreement, according to some of those in attendance.

Five board members were invited, which would have been a quorum and a violation of the Open Meetings Law, but one board member, Carol Kellam, left immediately and did not attend.

Currently the board is split 4-4 with an election looming for the ninth board member to be elected to fill a vacancy this fall.

Tuesday's 7:30 a.m. meeting at a soul food restaurant in Riverdale came on the same day as an evening board meeting and one day before board members are scheduled to attend a two-day retreat to decide on a superintendent search process and to hopefully resolve other issues that have divided the board.

The Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery, a well-known civil rights activist, Clayton County NAACP President Dexter Matthews, and Tyrone Brooks, president of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, were in attendance.

Also, several black ministers and local education activist Gail Hambrick, along with board members Linda Crummy, Ericka Davis, Ware and Connie Kitchens, attended.

Lois Baines Hunter, a former candidate for an elected office, attended and renewed her call for Ware to step down from her post.

"(Lowery) said he was mostly concerned with the children and was concerned about a riff between African-Americans emerging in the community," Davis said.

"I think he was very sincere and genuine in his efforts in trying to bring about reconciliation and healing in the African-American community."

Davis could not say if there were ulterior motives behind the meeting, such as influencing her beliefs to match those of Ware and Kitchens.

Davis does not see a race issue, however, when it comes to being a board member.

"Those women have disagreed with me," she said. "Those who say I'm not protective of black leadership, I beg to differ. My disagreeing with a person's stance, which (one) does on the board, has nothing to do with my blackness."