0

Judge delays hearing in BOE ethics suit

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Arguments in a hearing to decide the constitutionality of the Clayton County Board of Education's ethics law will have to be heard another day, a judge said Tuesday.

Retired Senior Superior Court Judge William H. Ison decided to continue the case filed by embattled school board member Michael King because sheriff's deputies served the school board ethics commission's attorney with the lawsuit, instead of the commission's chairman.

In documents he filed with the Clerk of Superior Court's office, King listed school board ethics commission Chairman Robert Flournoy as the person who should receive service of his motion for declaratory judgment on the constitutionality of the ethics law. Deputies served ethics commission attorney Winston Denmark instead. No new date has been set for arguments in the case.

King has been fighting to keep his District 4 seat on the school board since February, when the commission ordered his removal. The commission decided King violated the school board's ethics policy by representing a former Mt. Zion High School teacher in a lawsuit against the school system, and the school board, while he was sitting on the board.

King filed a petition for a preliminary injunction, a permanent injunction, and declaratory judgment with Clayton County Superior Court in early March in an attempt to stop the school board from voting on his removal, and to have last year's House Bill 1302, the law which created the school board's ethics commission, declared unconstitutional by a judge.

Clayton County Superior Court Judge Matthew Simmons denied the petition for the preliminary injunction on March 23, but put off arguments on the other items King requested until Tuesday. The school board voted in favor of removing King on March 23. King is appealing that decision to the courts as well.

During arguments Tuesday on the permanent injunction, King said he expected the school system would file another ethics complaint against him with the commission because he is representing himself in the declaratory judgment issue. Ison dismissed the petition for a permanent injunction anyway.

"That is a supposed action, and this is about pending action - actual controversy," Ison told King from the bench.

King said he was disappointed about the continuance because he expected Ison to hear the case, and to rule in favor of the school system. "If he had made a ruling today, I could have taken it to the Georgia Supreme Court," King said. "I anticipated he would rule against me because of the prejudice that exists against me. They want to do whatever they can to help the school system get rid of me."

Ison declined to comment on King's claim of prejudice.