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Local mayors add pressure for school board resignations

By Trina Trice

Pressure is mounting against key members of the Clayton County Board of Education as several mayors have added their voice calling for their resignations.

At a quarterly municipalities group meeting Lake City Mayor Willie Oswalt said he and several other mayors agreed to publicly support comments made Thursday at a press conference by Shane Moody, CEO and president of the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce.

Moody called for the resignations of Board Chairwoman Nedra Ware, Vice Chairwoman Connie Kitchens, and members Carol Kellam and LaToya Walker.

He blamed the four members' actions for putting the school system in disarray and causing a division among board members.

Oswalt said the mayors support "what the Chamber came out with yesterday, calling for the resignations so people can get on with what is best about the school system."

The board controversy is "affecting a lot of other people other than the school system. We just felt like we would go on record and support what (Moody) had to say," Oswalt said.

At least two businesses have backed away from considering the county for relocation or expansion, Moody said, after learning about the controversy surrounding the school system. The result could be a loss of a $50 million investment and hundreds of jobs, he said.

"We are losing business relocations and expansions on a daily basis because of the threat of losing accreditation," Moody said. "No business will be part of a community with a crumbling public school system. (Losing those businesses) takes jobs and money out of our county, and ultimately decays our quality of life."

Ware and Kitchens said they do not plan to resign because they have not done anything wrong. They called and then canceled a press conference Friday, believed to be called to defend themselves.

Oswalt, a retired Clayton County high school coach, has spoken to local realtors experiencing problems with home sales.

The school board is "making it difficult in selling houses," Oswalt said. "They are setting longer and a lot of people are coming down on their prices."

In other school board related business, the called meeting today will not be a forum to discuss the appointment of a superintendent, said member Barbara Wells.

The school board is meeting at 6:30 p.m. to discuss a personnel matter involving a teacher, she said.

When asked if she could reveal the nature of the issue, Wells said, "No, because it's about a personnel matter. We just have to talk about it in executive session and vote in open session on what has been suggested."

The board is scheduled to vote to appoint Dr. Lonnie Edwards, currently assistant superintendent of the DeKalb County school system, to the superintendent post at a called meeting June 24.

But four members said they will support no candidate until a nationwide search is conducted

Justin Reedy contributed to this article.