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Ware wants board members' help in removing Chavis

By Bob Paslay

Clayton County School Board Chairwoman Nedra Ware on Monday stepped up her attack of Interim Superintendent William Chavis, calling on board members to help her oust him.

Ware was instrumental in getting Chavis to take over the reins of the 50,000-student district after Dan Colwell was ousted earlier this year.

Ware said in a memo to board members sent Monday that Chavis' conduct has been "unprofessional" and she said he could not continue in that post.

Chavis told Southern Association of Colleges and Schools investigators that Ware and Vice Chairwoman Connie Kitchens daily make decisions for the district, including reassigning people. He said he is just a "figurehead."

SACS investigators visited the system in May after reports were received from system employees, parents and others concerning how the School Board conducts business.

The day the system received the seven-page report that placed the system on probation for one year, Ware "reprimanded" Chavis. She cited, in a letter of reprimand send to Chavis last week, issues including not having the minutes of meetings to her in time and approving the board meeting agendas without consulting her.

Chavis fired back last Thursday, saying in a letter to Ware, anyone would be ill-advised to come to Clayton County as superintendent as long as Ware and Kitchens hold leadership positions.

On Monday, Ware went farther, saying to board members in one of several memos issued that "his behavior, to say the least, is slanderous and will serve no constructive purpose to continue in his present assignment."

"This outrageous display of behavior has affirmed our need for the urgent appointment of a superintendent," she said.

She asked the board members for their "advisement and direction as to how I, Nedra Ware, and Connie Kitchens must deal with the demonstrated unprofessional conducted" expressed by Chavis in last Friday's News Daily.

In Friday's published statement, Chavis disclosed that he had earlier quit the position because of Ware's conduct but had been talked into staying.

"I am doing what I decided I would do when I was asked to be interim superintendent and that is keep the job going. All the departments are functioning well," Chavis said Monday, adding that he doesn't want to speak specifically on Ware's comments.

Listing a series of positive things happening in the district from summer school to maintenance programs and hiring new teachers, Chavis said, "Some want to put the schools on hold to pursue their own personal vendetta and I don't have time for that. We need to put personal animosity aside."

Chavis said his main concern, and the concern of school employees is the children and their parents and helping the district get off probation.

Ware could not be reached for comment.

Ware's latest actions are part of an escalating battle between she and Kitchens, four other board members and Chavis in a system embroiled in conflict since Colwell's ouster.

Ware has been pushing to quickly hire a new superintendent after a local search, that she and Kitchens controlled, that garnered only about 10 names, mostly local, for the post. Chavis is one of the 10, although the full list has never been shown to the other seven board members and remains under lock and key.

Board members Linda Crummy, Bob Livingston, Ericka Davis and Barbara Wells have pushed to reopen the search and have a national search with the help of the Georgia School Boards Association. The proposal calls for the public to have input into the interview and selection process.

Ware last week refused to put this proposal on the agenda because she said it "certainly will serve no constructive purpose other than to prolong the urgent and desperate need of appointing a superintendent." Her refusal is in direct contrast to a suggestion from SACS that calls for the system to "conduct a national search for the best available candidate for superintendent in accordance with Georgia law and board policy."