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BOC says to school board members should 'resign now'

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

In a special called meeting on Thursday, the Clayton County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution unequivocally calling for the remaining members of the Clayton County School Board to resign.

The board also approved a resolution urging Governor Sonny Perdue to "intervene as within his power" in the school board accreditation crisis.

Among their requests include asking the Governor's office to create a "Leadership Team" to work with the leadership of Clayton County towards solving the issue and asking Perdue to press the State Board of Education to get involved as well.

"We are speaking as a voice of the citizens of Clayton County from our prospective districts and asking them and urging them and strongly encouraging the remaining portion of the people to resign by a date specific," said Clayton County BOC Chairman Eldrin Bell. "While we have no more authority than does the governor," in matters of the school board, "it gives us the position to ask those people to resign and adhere to what the people have already asked them to do," he added.

"People have been asking [the school board members] to resign for months with no avail," said Virginia Gray. "I think we should appeal to the governor. I can't say to the extent of his authority, but I'm asking [Perdue] to exercise whatever power he has."

Gray noted that Perdue already has sent two liaisons to the county to offer assistance to the school board. She believes that more needs to be done, however.

"It obviously needs to be taken to another level," said Gray. "We still haven't met the nine requirements," required by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) for the school board to avoid loosing accreditation.

In a work session following the meeting, the BOC discussed voting next week to enter into an agreement with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) to provide county police with new, wireless fingerprinting equipment.

The equipment, secured by a Department Homeland Security grant, will make the Rapid ID system available to several metro area law enforcement agencies. Clayton County Police Chief Jeff Turner believes the identification system will be a valuable tool for the department.

"We have a CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) unit and a need to fingerprint out in the field," said Turner. "This equipment will make our jobs much easier." He said the Rapid ID system will allow police to get "an instant read of whether these [suspects] are wanted people, missing people, or illegal aliens."

Turner said the technology will be extremely helpful when police conduct criminal sweeps, such as a recent one on Flint River Road.

Bell believes the new fingerprinting system will save the county hundreds of man hours and cut down on transportation costs.

"It will help us with identity issues immediately, and I don't have to drag that police officer off the beat," said Bell. "It helps me to maintain beat integrity."

The BOC will vote on the Rapid ID system, as well as several other issues on Tuesday.