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Hearing set for former BOE member Haynes

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Norreese Haynes, the former member of the embattled Clayton County Board of Education who was removed from office by his colleagues in March, will go before a judge next month to try and get his seat back.

A hearing for Haynes, who represented school district 8 for more than a year, will be held at 9 a.m., on May 5, in room 402 of the Harold R. Banke Justice Center, 9151 Tara Blvd. in Jonesboro.

Clayton County Superior Court Judge Deborah Benefield will preside.

"This whole thing was a conspiracy to get me off the board and I want to know why," Haynes said Wednesday. He said he will subpoena the president of SACS, Dr. Mark Elgart, former Superintendent Barbara Pulliam, the board's outgoing legal counsel, Dorsey Hopson and "everybody else I feel played a role in this conspiracy."

Haynes said he is hopeful he will be returned to the board.

Former board chairperson Ericka Davis, vice-chairperson Eddie White along with board members David Ashe, Yolanda Everett and Rod Johnson, as well as the school system are listed as defendants in an injunction to stop a July 15, special election to replace Haynes.

By law, a school board member must live in the district he, or she, represents.

Haynes used a Morrow address when he was elected to the school board in 2006. A Clayton County Police investigation determined he had been living in a Marietta apartment for several years, and never lived at the Morrow address he was claiming.

School system spokesman Charles White declined to comment on the matter because it's a legal issue. The school system and the board's legal representation in the case, attorneys Steve Fincher, Winston Denmark and L'Erin Barnes, could not be reached for comment.

Haynes has been one of the central figures in the school system's accreditation crisis. He was one of five board members who filed complaints with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools against colleagues. He also was the subject of complaints filed by fellow board members who alleged Haynes didn't live in the county and tried to interfere with the bid process for a privatized alternative education program.

Haynes and board member Johnson also had trouble getting along during board meetings, including an incident in late October 2007, where both men engaged in a public shouting match.

Haynes filed his injunction on March 13. The former board member claims in the legal document he was the victim of the "most crass of political vendettas."

Board member Davis introduced a resolution to remove Haynes from office during a meeting March 3, without having the rest of the board vote in favor of adding it to the agenda. Davis, White, Ashe, Everett and Johnson voted in favor of removing Haynes, while Haynes and fellow board members Sandra Scott and Michelle Strong, voted against the action.

Board member Lois Baines-Hunter abstained from the vote.

"What she [Davis] did was unjust and unlawful," Haynes told the Clayton News Daily on March 14.

The former board member has admitted he did rent the apartment in Marietta, but claimed it was not his permanent residence and he only had it because he was taking classes at a nearby University of Phoenix campus.

Haynes hoped to be back on the board by the end of the month, but it took time to assign the case to a judge, get the attorneys for both sides to sign in and issue a notice for a legal hearing. Subpoenas were delivered to Interim Superintendent Dr. Gloria Duncan, and four of five board members listed in the injunction before a call meeting on April 2. Dorsey Hopson, the school system's legal counsel, received the subpoena for board member Everett because she arrived late for the meeting.

Haynes also will appear in Cobb County State Court on May 16 for an arraignment to face a charge of domestic violence. He allegedly assaulted a man who claims to be Haynes' "live-in boyfriend of five years" in December 2007 during an argument over missing condoms, according to a Marietta Police Department Offense Report.

Haynes denied being in a relationship with the other man, and insisted the scuffle was over a love triangle that involved both men and a woman.