By Greg Gelpi
A group of Clayton County Public School administrators schemed to manipulate the system's hiring process so that their choice for Area 2 assistant superintendent would get the job, according to a letter from Interim Superintendent William Chavis.
Chavis made his charges in a complaint filed with the Education Ethics Division of the Professional Standards Commission, a copy of which the News Daily obtained through an open records request.
In an unrelated action recently former Superintendent Dan Colwell filed a complaint with that agency against another Chavis assistant, deputy superintendent Bill Horton for mismanaged money.
Assistant Area Superintendents Jackie Hubbert and Luvenia Jackson and assistant superintendent Sam King asked Chavis to hire the candidate they wanted to have the job using the same micro-management that placed the school system on probation, Chavis said.
Chavis also implicated another assistant superintendent, Lynda Daniel, in what he referred to as a "conspiracy."
"I consider this type of behavior by the three assistant Superintendents to be deliberate, unnecessary, unethical, manipulative and unprofessional," Chavis stated in his letter.
According to documents obtained by the paper, Chavis made the following allegation about the "conspiracy:"
"It was brought to my attention by an Area Assistant Superintendent that Mrs. Jackson was heavily involved in a conspiracy with two other area Assistant Superintendents that I considered to be highly unethical, highly unprofessional and an act of insubordination.
"More specifically, Mr. Walt Pierce, an Area Assistant Superintendent resigned to accept a position with another county in Georgia. That resignation created a vacancy within the Clayton County Public Schools. The position was posted and
the candidates were selected according to the existing personnel policies. The selection process produced four qualified individuals for the position of Area II Assistant Superintendent. Mrs. Jackson called Vela Lee (one of the final four candidates) and attempted to convince her that she was not qualified to be Area II Assistant Superintendent and that the personnel department had already decided who the appointee would be. Mrs. Jackie Hubbert called Dr. Mack Bullard ( one of the final four candidates) and suggested that he remove his name from consideration, because it had already been decided who that appointee would be and that he was too young and had not been in the system long enough to be considered. Lynda Daniel called Dr. Gloria Duncan (one of the final four candidates) and attempted to convince her that she was not qualified and that she was needed as Principal of Riverdale High School and the person had been selected prior to the interview process. The fourth person was not contacted at all."
That document did not indicate the name of the fourth candidate.
However, a memo from Area III Assistant Superintendent Linda W. Tanner obtained by the News Daily tells of a meeting between Jackson and Kemp Elementary Principal Valya Lee. At that meeting, Jackson tried to get Lee to drop out of consideration for the open assistant superintendent post.
"Ms. Lee then said that Luvenia told her that it gave the impression that she was applying for everything in order to secure a promotion."
"Valya Lee told me that Luvenia Jackson indicated that David Head would receive this position because the interviewing committee would make this happen," the memo states.
"I continued to encourage Valya Lee to leave her name on the list of candidates and to not feel intimidated by Luvenia Jackson or anyone. At the close of our meeting, she indicated that she would interview for the position."
Lee was later given the position, according to school officials.
According to another letter from Chavis to the Professional Standards Commission:
"All three of the offended persons indicated to me that they feel the need to file charges and file a complaint with the Professional Standards Commission regarding the unprofessional and unethical behavior of the three Area Assistant Superintendents. I indicated to them that I would comply with their wishes and request maximum punishment from the Professional Standards Commission. A fourth person, Assistant Superintendent Sam King came to me and apologized for being tricked into participating in this conspiracy. A member of the Clayton County Board of Education inquired about the involvement of the "other" people involved in this conspiracy.
Chavis did not name the board member and the News Daily was unsuccessful in reaching him.
"This entire episode was an attempt to get ?their' person in place and an attempt at micro-management," Chavis alleged in the letter.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placed the school system on probation for one year for, among other violations, the Clayton County Board of Education's micro-managing of the day-to-day operations of the school system.
"This attempt at micro-management is precisely what caused our probation with SACS and an investigation from the Clayton County Grand Jury," Chavis said in his letter.
Mark Elgart, the executive director of the SACS Commission on Secondary and Middle Schools, said the school board and superintendent must learn their roles and responsibilities and stop muddling in daily business.
The county school system has until spring to adequately respond to and correct the violations found by SACS or it could lose school accreditation.
Despite the correspondence between Chavis and Vicky Brantley, the director of the Education Ethics Division, no investigation into the complaints has begun, John Grant, the chief investigator for the division, said.
"I don't know anything of the four names," Grant said. "That is not to say that when the paper comes out Monday there won't be an investigation.
"We could still be processing a complaint," Grant said. "That doesn't mean the complaint will be investigated."
In the letter to the Ethics Division, Chavis accused Jackson of several other wrongdoings, including mismanagement of funds causing the county to lose nearly $700,000 while she oversaw the Evening High School and the alternative school operated in a deficit for three consecutive years under her guidance.
Chavis transferred Jackson from her position as assistant superintendent of student services to principal of Church Street Elementary. The Clayton County Board of Education then reversed the decision and placed her back in her
assistant superintendent position.
Chavis will meet with the board of education tonight at 7 to discuss the micro-management alleged by SACS along with the other violations detailed in the report the accrediting agency released last week in a follow-up inspection.