Pulliam recommends changes

By Greg Gelpi

Clayton County Public Schools Superintendent Barbara Pulliam has recommended the review of several board policies.

Pulliam presented the policies to the Clayton County Board of Education during a retreat held recently, an effort to help the system get off probation.

Jack Warren, the school system's administrative assistant for policy, said he pulled the policies after a staff meeting with Pulliam. He also got relevant policies from Pulliam's former school system in St. Louis Parks, Minn.

"This is not unusual," Warren said. "In fact, policy review goes on just about all of the time. She wasn't ordering me to pull these policies."

Barbara Wells, the chairwoman of the board policy committee, though, said she didn't know about the policies until the retreat.

"I haven't spoken to her in detail about why she chose the policies," Wells said. "I would still like to have a policy retreat."

In November, she proposed and the board approved having a policy retreat in January, but no such retreat has been held as of yet. The policy committee will meet March 18 to discuss the policies mentioned at the retreat.

The school board selected Gary Sams to be its liaison to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The school system's accrediting agency placed the system on probation and recommended that the board review its policies. Sams didn't speak with Pulliam about the policies before she presented them at the retreat.

"One of our SACS suggestions was to make sure we are following our policy," Warren said.

Pulliam recommended that the board review more than a dozen of its policies and passed out copies of a few St. Louis Parks policies for the board for comparison.

One such St. Louis Parks policy defines the roles and responsibilities of the school board and the superintendent. SACS recommended that the Clayton County board do that in a report filed with the system after an October visit by a SACS review team.

Policies ranged from that to the ways in which schools are named.

Board Chairwoman Nedra Ware had wanted to name a school after Hosea Williams, a long-time civil rights leader from Atlanta. Current board policy, though, says that a person must be dead at least three years before a school is named after that person.

The school system has new schools opening in the fall that need to be named.

Both Clayton and St. Louis Parks' policies assign responsibility for making policy to the school board and responsibility for carrying out that policy to the superintendent.

The St. Louis Parks policy, which was revised while Pulliam was superintendent there, is more specific in the distinctions between the board and superintendent.

She also recommended that the board review its policy on board officer responsibilities in light of St. Louis Parks' policy.

Pulliam also provided a copy of the St. Louis Parks board code of ethics for the board to compare to its own code of ethics.

"I will not ?play politics,'" the St. Louis Parks code of ethics states.

SACS found that the school board was micromanaging the school system by interfering with the superintendent's office.

Another policy considered for review is the board policy on travel. The policy caps board travel at $2,500 per board member per fiscal year.

Pulliam and board Ware encouraged board members to take advantage of the travel allowance for academic and professional development during the board retreat.

Pulliam has been working to implement her six goals for her first months as superintendent. As part of this, she "restructured" the system's senior administration at Monday's regular business meeting of the board.

She hired, with the approval of the board, two administrators from the St. Louis Parks school system and one from the Rockford, Ill., school system, a system in which Pulliam once worked. Board member Linda Crummy abstained from the 8-0 vote.

Other policies proposed by Pulliam for review were policies regarding the use of schools by non-school groups, fund-raising and board conflict of interest.