By Curt Yeomans
The embattled Clayton County Board of Education opens a new chapter in its quest to meet one of the nine mandates the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) says it must meet by Sept. 1, or lose its accreditation.
At its monthly business meeting Monday night, the board must decide what to do about Norreese Haynes, the school board member kicked off the board in March by his colleagues when a Clayton County police investigation said he did not reside in the county. Georgia's Secretary of State conducted its investigation and said Haynes is a legitimate resident.
"We were advised he did not live in the county, and that's why we removed him from office," said Dr. Eddie White, vice chair of the board. "If it turns out he is, in fact, a resident of the county, then he is a full fledged member of this board as far as I'm concerned."
It is not clear how the state's residency finding will impact Haynes' scheduled appearance in Clayton County Superior Court May 5, to stop a special election to replace him. His attorney did not return multiple calls by the Clayton News Daily to his office on Friday.
Parents, business groups and students, have persisted in their calls for the entire board resign in light of the district facing a loss of accreditation.
The board will go into executive session Monday at 6 p.m. The business portion of the meeting is set to begin at 7 p.m. Dorsey Hopson, the school system's attorney, is scheduled to present the update on the District 8 seat. He could not be reached for comment by the Clayton News Daily on Friday.
The body must also must decide if it will accept the resignation of chairperson Ericka Davis. Meanwhile, another board member, Rod Johnson, has yet to finalize his date to resign.
The confirmation of the residential information for each board member was at the heart of a (SACS) mandate to the school district.
Secretary of State Karen Handel released a report on Thursday saying all nine board members live in the county. The next day, the school system issued a revised agenda for its April 14 board meeting to includes a status update on Haynes' District 8 seat.
"The superintendent and the chair set the agenda for the meetings, but I went ahead and added that item to the agenda after the secretary of state's report came out [Thursday]," said White.
There will be another twist in the board's saga at Monday's session.
White said he plans to seek the post, even though he previously announced his plans to resign on June 15.
"I have not put that in writing [with election officials], although I did say June 15 would be the date," White said. "My plans are to resign when we have met all nine of the requirements laid out by SACS. I think we're pretty close to knocking one of those requirements out with the secretary of state's report, but we still have to wait to see what the superior court decides."
Haynes said the board should not select White as a replacement for Davis, because he plans to resign. He prefers Lois Baines-Hunter and Michelle Strong.
"The board needs stability right now, not someone who's going to take over and then leave in a few months," said Haynes on Wednesday. "I respect Mr. White, and the years of service he has given to this school system, but I cannot forget he voted to remove me from office... I think Lois would make a good chairwoman, and so would Michelle."
It was Davis who introduced the March 3 resolution to remove Haynes from the board. She declined to comment on the matter on Friday because there is pending litigation related to the action.
Davis, White, board members David Ashe, Yolanda Everett and Rod Johnson voted to remove Haynes.
Haynes, and board members Sandra Scott and Michelle Davis voted against the measure. Member Lois Baines-Hunter abstained.
Other items on the agenda include a SACS update; a resolution to accept Ericka Davis' resignation; a resolution to declare Davis' seat vacant; an executive session in the middle of the meeting; resolutions thanking state legislators for supporting legislation which establishes an ethics commission for the board, and ensures juniors and sophomores will be eligible for the HOPE scholarship; a policy on vendor conflicts of interest; personnel recommendations for Mt. Zion, Haynie, and River's Edge Elementary Schools, and a coordinator for media services; an update on the district's charter schools, and textbook updates.