By Curt Yeomans
Former Clayton County Board of Education Chairman Eddie White is asking his former colleagues to take "immediate action" against board member Sandra Scott for allegedly violating the agency's ethics policy last month by circulating a "vile, derogatory and defamatory" letter charging that White had an improper relationship with a school system employee.
Under board policy, the school system's governing body can issue a verbal or written reprimand; remove Scott from any board officer position; take away district funds for her travel expenses, censure her, or remove her from board meetings - if the board decides to take any action at all.
White resigned from his seat on the board partly because of the letter. He stressed he wanted any action taken against Scott to be done in public, so the community can see it happen.
"This was an egregious act by Ms. Scott and immediate action is requested as her actions have negatively impacted my family and assassinated my character," White said in a letter to board Chairperson Michelle Strong, other board members and legal counsel Dorsey Hopson.
Scott said she planned to e-mail a statement to the media responding to White's allegations on Monday night. But she later called a Clayton News Daily reporter and said she would not agree to send her statement unless the reporter guaranteed the entire statement would be published. She sent her statement, but it was determined that it could not be printed in its entirety, so there is no response from Scott in this article.
Board ethics is at the center of an ongoing accreditation crisis in the school system. Officials from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) called the board "dysfunctional" and mandated that a tougher ethics policy and a functioning school board be put in place by Sept. 1.
The school system will lose its accreditation if SACS'mandates are not met, or if significant progress is not made toward meeting the mandates, by the deadline.
Scott allegedly took a post from an Internet blog, which contained the accusation against White, and distributed the information as a letter to other board members during an executive session on April 23, according to White.
"Madam Chair, clearly this is a violation of Policy BH and immediate action is requested to address this issue no later than the next meeting of the board," White stated in his letter to Strong. The board will hold a budget work session tonight at 6:30 p.m., at the school system's Central Administration Complex, 1058 Fifth Ave., Jonesboro.
Chairperson Strong said the board will discuss White's request before deciding what to do about it. She also said she would have to consult legal counsel Hopson about whether any action would take place in public. She added that she believes "it would have to be in public, if something is done." Hopson could not be reached for comment.
Even if the board takes no action against Scott, she is still facing a recall effort. The recall effort cleared one hurdle on May 9. Annie Bright, director of the Clayton County Board of Elections, certified the Concerned Citizens Coalition's application for a recall of Scott. The group now can begin to circulate petitions asking for an election to remove the board member from office.
Coalition leaders allege Scott played a significant role in creating the school system's current accreditation crisis.