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Pulliam cleared in ethics investigation

By Greg Gelpi

Clayton County schools Superintendent Barbara Pulliam was cleared of any wrong doing in her selection of top assistantsa by the Professional Standards Commission.

Teacher advocacy official John Trotter filed an ethics complaint with the Professional Standards Commission regarding Pulliam's hiring of three senior school officials in March. He said he filed it as an individual and not as president of the Metro Association of Classroom Educators.

The PSC found no probable cause to sanction Pulliam's educator's certificate.

"On June 10, 2004, the PSC considered allegations of professional conduct against you and determined that there was no probable cause to take disciplinary action against you," F.D. Toth, the executive secretary of the PSC, said in a letter to Pulliam. "Your disciplinary case has been closed and the file has been expunged."

Trotter alleged that Pulliam broke Georgia law by not advertising the job vacancies, and thus not allowing those within the school system as well as those outside the school system the opportunity to apply for the positions.

"The superintendent is not above the law," he said at the time. "She must follow Georgia law."

Pulliam, who took over on Feb. 9, changed the school system's administrative rule regarding personnel hiring.

"I was confident that I behaved properly and appropriately when I filled those positions with people who are not only experienced, but ones who also possess the required ability and training," Pulliam said in a statement Tuesday. "I stringently followed county policy when I made those appointments."

Later the same day Pulliam changed the rule, she nominated three people for the Clayton County Board of Education to approve to fill the senior level positions.

"The posting of non-school administrative vacancies and the committee's review/interview may be waived by the Superintendent when the Superintendent determines that circumstances warrant the direct appointment of a candidate known by the Superintendent to possess the required training, experience and ability," the new rule states. "The Superintendent will recommend to the Board the person to be appointed to the position and the circumstances for the direct appointment."

Pulliam changed the position of assistant to the superintendent, a position made vacant when David Gregory retired more than a year ago, to chief of staff. She named Jean Hale Hicks to chief of staff.

Hicks worked as the director of human resources for the St. Louis Park Public Schools system in St. Louis Park, Minn. Pulliam was superintendent of that system before coming to Clayton County.

She also changed the deputy superintendent position to chief academic officer and named Sharon Contreras-Halton to the position. She was the assistant superintendent for pupil personnel services for Rockford Public Schools in Rockford, Ill, where Pulliam had also worked.

Pulliam also made Cindy A. Brictson the Area 1 area instructional specialist. She was the director of teaching and learning for the West Metro Education Program in Edina, Minn.

"I cooperated fully with the commission and was not deterred by the complaint," she stated.

"I will continue to focus my attention on student achievement and success throughout this county."