By Trina Trice
Natisha Lee, candidate for the District 8 seat on the Clayton County Board of Education, had a run in with the law two years ago.
According to documents obtained by the News Daily, Lee was charged with theft by shoplifting in early 2001.
In March 2001, Lee and an accomplice took three Polo jackets, four pairs of Polo pants, and one "Phat" shirt worth $300 from Macy's department store, which was, then, in Southlake Mall.
For the crime, Lee received three years probation that she violated in several ways, such as breaking her curfew, failing to find a job and smoking marijuana.
Jim Corbin, who owns a business in District 8, can't warm up to the idea of voting for a candidate who has had past run-ins with the law.
"Obviously, we look for someone of integrity to serve our children's best interest," he said. "It will factor negatively in my (voting selection)."
When asked about the charge earlier this week Lee said it was "not true."
An attempt to contact her Thursday was unsuccessful because her phone is disconnected.
Lee is running against retired educator Allen Johnson for the hottest seat in the county.
Former District 8 Board member Sue Ryan resigned in March after serving only three months of her four-year term. She cited concern for her family as a reason for leaving the position.
Lee pleaded guilty under a first offender law that wiped her charge clear which left her qualified to vote. That means she's still qualified to run for the school board.
Lee, 27, is a cashier at Wal-Mart and has said she is running for the school board because she is a concerned mother. She is single with three children. Her oldest daughter is the only one that currently attends school. The other two are too young. She has lived in District 8 for three years.
Lee was a no-show at a "Meet the Candidates" forum sponsored by the Clayton County Coalition for Quality Education in August, but she did show up for a recent forum sponsored by the local branch of the NAACP.
"I have a daughter in school," she said at the forum. "To hear about accreditation and what's going on in the school, it's really bad. It hurts me to my heart ? if we don't have accreditation.
"A lot of people are saying I'm not qualified, but it's not about being qualified. It's about getting the job done. I'm not saying that I'd be the best person on the board, but I'd be there to help."
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.
Voters go to the polls on Tuesday to fill the vacancy. After more than nine months of turmoil following the ouster of Superintendent Dan Colwell, the school board is evenly divided and the Tuesday election is seen as critical by many.