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Advice sought on district

By Trina Trice

Bill Horton, deputy assistant superintendent for Clayton County Schools, is seeking advice from school district Attorney Gary Sams on how to proceed with the appointment of a new school board member for District 8.

The Clayton County Board of Education is seeking applications for qualified candidates to fill the District 8 school board seat left vacant by the resignation of Dr. Sue Ryan last week.

"The board has not had a meeting since Ryan's" resignation, Sams said. "My advice has not yet been requested."

Although the school board has not consulted with Sams, he is sure that the board member appointed must reside in the District 8 region outlined in the school district map that took effect Jan. 1 of this year, he said.

District 8 is in northeastern Clayton County, and includes parts of Morrow, Forest Park, Lake City, Conley, and Ellenwood. It is bordered on the west by Ga. Highway 54 and partially bordered on the east by Ga. Highway 42, and extends from the DeKalb County line in the north to the intersection of Rock Creek Drive and Fielder Road in the south.

As for the procedure the school board is using to replace Ryan, some Board members, such as Barbara Wells are urging that it appoint a new board member in the same manner board vacancies were filled for State Rep. Mike Barnes, D-Hampton, and State Sen. Valencia Seay, D-College Park, when they resigned from the school board to run for state legislature.

Controversy surrounding the filling of school board seat vacancies began this year with the appointment of Carol Kellam, who replaced a seat left vacant by former Board member Mark Armstrong for District 1 in January.

A few board members remarked they had no previous knowledge of Kellam or of her qualifications prior to her being elected with a 4-3 vote at a Jan. 13 called board meeting.

However, the school board invites residents from District 8 to apply. Applications are accepted until noon Thursday.

Top candidates for the position will be announced and voted upon in an open session at a called meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Clayton County Public Schools Administration Complex on 1058 Fifth Ave. in Jonesboro.

Each board member is eligible to sponsor one candidate that resides in District 8 and can recommend for the candidate to be voted upon by all board members during the session.

The selected candidate is expected to take office immediately upon being sworn in as a member of the board of education.

Seay has drafted a resolution urging the school board to delay appointing someone to the District 8 seat until legislation can be approved that would call for a special election this year.

"There is an urgent need to fill that position as quickly as possible," Jackson said in response to whether or not the school board will wait to fill the seat. "The voters will have an opportunity to elect a person to fill that seat in the 2004 election cycle."

There are 15 qualifications spelled out in board policy to serve on the Clayton County Board of Education.

You must be at least 21, a resident of the state for one year, the county for two years and a resident of the single-member district.

You must not have been convicted of embezzlement of public funds, treason, malfeasance in office, bribery or larceny or any crime of moral turpitude, unless pardoned, or convicted of any felony.

You must not have been adjudged an idiot or insane or be of unsound mind or unfit to discharge the duties because of advanced age or bodily infirmity. You must not be a holder or receiver of public money of this state or any county who has refused or failed when called upon to account for and pay over such money.

The board member must not hold any federal (except military reserves) or county office, must not be employed by Clayton County Schools or by the state department of education or employed by or serving on the board of a private educational institution above the high school level. The person also must not be the publisher's agent of school books and not have a pecuniary interest in the sale of textbooks.

Qualified applicants can submit resumes to Horton at the administration complex address or fax to (770) 603-5100.

For more information, call Mr. Horton at (770) 473-2731.