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School officials defend themselves against charges

By Greg Gelpi

Amidst rumors that Interim Superintendent William Chavis is considering his resignation, several Clayton County school administrators challenged the allegations he made in a complaint to the Ethics Education Division of the Professional Standards Commission.

Meanwhile, while rumors swirl that Chavis has been considering stepping down, key officials said Tuesday he has been absent because of health reasons and plans to return to the central office on Thursday.

Chavis alleged in the complaint that assistant superintendents muddled in the hiring process for a new assistant area superintendent in an attempt to help "their" applicant get the job. He also alleged that Assistant Superintendent Jackie Hubbert mismanaged funds.

"I welcome any investigation by the (Professional Standards Commission)," Hubbert told the Clayton County Board of Education at its meeting Monday.

She said she was asked to sit on a screening committee for applicants for Area 2 assistant superintendent. But she strongly denied the allegation made by Chavis that she called Vela Lee, one of the applicants, to convince her to withdraw her application and denied saying that the selection process was predetermined.

The complaint doesn't serve the students of the county and is "divisive" and "libelous," she said.

"I was surprised that those statements would be associated with my name," Hubbert said, adding that she didn't know why Chavis would allege such things. "I can only answer questions about what I did."

Jackson has been with the school system since 1976 and was Chavis' supervisor in 1998 until he became interim superintendent last year.

"I did not know about any of this," she said. "(The allegations) are not true."

"Not once have I had an unsatisfactory evaluation," Jackson said.

She also denied the allegations of mismanaging funds in the amount of $700,000 while being over the Evening High School.

School system Chief Financial Officer Lee Davis paused when board members asked if the school operated in a deficit as Chavis claimed. He said ?deficit' isn't the word he would use. Since the Evening High School works out of the same budget as other programs, it isn't possible to say if the allegation is true without reviewing the accounting of the general fund.

Chavis alleged that Assistant Superintendent Sam King apologized for his part in making phone calls during the hiring process, but King denied the phone call and denied the apology.

"I did not participate in a conspiratorial act, so no apology is needed," King told the board.

Chavis was not at the board meeting Monday and so couldn't defend his allegations. Chavis could not be reached for comment.

"I welcome the investigation," Jackson said. "I, too, want to see the evidence."

Chavis also implicated Assistant Superintendent Lynda Daniel.

"I consider the type of behavior by the three assistant Superintendents to be deliberate, unnecessary, unethical, manipulative and unprofessional," Chavis stated in his letter to the ethics commission.

In a memo from Area 3 Assistant Superintendent Linda Tanner to Chavis, she described a meeting between Jackson and Kemp Elementary Principal Valya Lee, one of the final four candidates for the position, in which Jackson tried to persuade her to remove her name from consideration for the job.

No complaint is currently being investigated by the Professional Standards Commission, but the complaint may be being reviewed, chief investigator John Grant said.