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BOE discusses superintendent vacancy, student tribunals in closed session

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Eddie White, chairman of the Clayton County Board of Education, was tight lipped, after a closed meeting on Wednesday, about whether the next school superintendent would be a corrective one or a permanent leader.

The board, and school system legal counsel, Dorsey Hopson, discussed the superintendent vacancy and student tribunals during the two-and-a-half-hour executive session. Special attorney, Glenn Brock, was not invited to participate in the meeting because the board was dealing with board matters, White said.

The chairman would not say what kind of discussions took place in regard to the school chief vacancy. The district has not had a permanent superintendent since Barbara Pulliam resigned from the position in July 2007.

The vacancy remains an ongoing issue, though.

"It was not determined if we'll hire a corrective superintendent or a permanent one," White told reporters. "Additional meetings will be necessary before we make a decision."

Pulliam's name has come up as a possible corrective superintendent, as has former superintendents Dan Colwell and Bob Livingston. Several unnamed school system employees have also been discussed in recent weeks.

White said some names were brought up during Wednesday's closed meeting, but he refused to say if any high-level district administrators were mentioned.

"There are several excellent individuals who would make good leaders for this school system," White said.

Dr. John Thompson and Dr. Santiago Wood were candidates for the corrective superintendent position in March. Both men withdrew their names from consideration after officials from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), and a state liaison criticized their abilities to lead the school system.

Only about seven community members and parents attended the meeting, but they got tired of waiting to see the board again and left after two hours of executive session. On Monday, the board spent nearly half of a six-and-a-half-hour meeting in executive session. Part of that time was spent meeting with SACS president Mark Elgart, and state liaisons.

"They are breaking the public's trust when they go into executive session all the time," said Dexter Matthews, the president of the Clayton County chapter of the NAACP. "It's disrespectful when they go back there and make us sit out here and wait on them."

Before the meeting began, former board member Norreese Haynes, and Metro Association of Classroom Educators (MACE) President John Trotter, met with members of the media outside the school system's Central Administration Complex.

Haynes addressed an April 10 report from Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, which said the former board member lived in his district. The board declared Haynes' seat vacant in March after a Clayton County police investigation determined he did not live in the county.

Trotter said Haynes was being kept off the board because the other board members didn't want him being involved in discussions concerning who would be the next superintendent.

"It's all about the superintendent search," Trotter said.

On Monday, school system attorney Hopson told board members they should wait until a May 5 hearing takes place in Clayton County Superior Court to decide whether Haynes was legally removed from the board. Haynes said the people who live in the board's eighth district, which the former board member represented, were being hurt because they currently have no one representing them on the board.

"The board should act on what Karen Handel has already said, which is I'm a resident of this county," Haynes said. "I grew up in this county, I went to school here ... I'm not OK with what the board has done. The board should go in there [a meeting] and do what's right, but the board is being stubborn."