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BOE to vote on ethics repeal resolution

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

The Clayton County Board of Education will hold a called meeting tonight to vote on a resolution that asks the county's legislative delegation to repeal a 2008 ethics law, aimed specifically at the school system, according to school board Chairperson Pamela Adamson.

The Clayton County school board's called meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., at the Clayton County Public Schools Central Administration Complex, which is located at 1058 Fifth Ave., in Jonesboro. In addition to voting on the resolution, the school board will hold an executive session to deal with two student tribunals, and two employee tribunals, according to Adamson.

Adamson said the school board sent a letter to Clayton County Legislative Delegation chairperson, State Rep. Roberta Abdul-Salaam (D-Riverdale), in January, asking the delegation to introduce legislation that would repeal a state law passed in 2008. The law, commonly known as House Bill 1302, established a code of ethics, and an ethics commission specifically for the Clayton County Board of Education.

Last year, however, state lawmakers created a school board reform law (commonly known as Senate Bill 84) which, among other things, mandated all school systems in the state adopt a model code of ethics that was established by the State Board of Education. The Clayton County school board adopted the state school board's ethics code model earlier this year.

The passing of a resolution by the school board would be merely a formality in the process of removing the ethics code established in 2008, because the school board cannot comply with either the old or new ethics codes as long as both continue to exist, Adamson said.

"Rather than a letter, we need to pass a resolution, asking the legislative delegation and the state General Assembly to pass a law repealing house bill 1302, because it's in conflict with Senate Bill 84," she said.

House Bill 1302 was passed in response to infighting, and allegations of unethical and dysfunctional behavior on the Clayton County school board, that helped lead to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools' (SACS) revoking the school system's accreditation in late 2008. The accreditation was later restored -- on a two-year probationary basis -- in May 2009. The district remains on probation at this time.

The school board has been seeking to get House Bill 1302, and an amendment to it passed by the Georgia General Assembly in 2009, since January, when board members were informed that the new ethics code model conflicted with the existing code of ethics.

Senate Bill 84's reforms were based largely on 2008 recommendations from a school board reform commission, whose membership included Mark Elgart, the president of SACS' parent organization, AdvancED.