Jeffery Benoit of the Clayton-Henry chapter of the National Action Network speaks before members of the Clayton County Branch of the NAACP and other concerned residents Monday, during a rally to stop the appointment of a permanent Clayton County Public Schools superintendent without an official search. (Staff Photo: Johnny Jackson)
JONESBORO — The Clayton County Board of Education approved a contract with Superintendent Luvenia Jackson, but not before members of the Clayton County Branch of the NAACP gathered in protest to her appointment.
Several residents gathered outside the administrative complex prior to the board’s monthly work session Monday to express concerns that the governing body is not listening to its constituency.
The group was joined by members of the Clayton-Henry chapter of the National Action Network, the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, Concern Citizens of Clayton County, D.A.D.S. and State Rep. Valencia Stovall.
“Put boots on the ground,” repeated Anthony Williams, president of Concerned Citizens of Clayton County. “Let’s put boots on the ground.”
Williams and others at the rally called for more citizen involvement as a means of keeping checks and balances in school board governance.
Rally speakers included Stovall, parent Barbara Gibbs, Clayton County NAACP Education Chair Karolen Mazyck and NAACP Youth Council President Miranda Mathis as well as Clayton State University student Jeremy Sistrunk.
Sistrunk said he returned to the district offices in the same mood as he did six years ago, when Clayton County Public Schools lost its SACS accreditation and he was a high school student.
“It’s a shame I’m back here again fighting the same fight,” he said.
Sistrunk called for transparency, echoing sentiments from Jeffery Benoit of the National Action Network.
“The people have spoken, however, five members of this board (are) not listening to the very voters that they were sworn to represent,” said Benoit.
He spoke during the Clayton County NAACP rally set half an hour before the board was scheduled to meet for its monthly work session Monday.
The board voted 5-4 earlier this month to appoint Luvenia Jackson permanent superintendent for Clayton County Public Schools.
Nearly three hours into Monday’s work session, the still-fractured board approved a three-year contract for Jackson.
Charlton Bivins attempted to find consensus in having a formal vetting of the superintendent preceding contract approval. He said it could be in the form of an interview.
“There needs to be something that we do in terms of understanding her goals,” said Bivins. “I move that we table the contract position until we at least interview Ms. Jackson.”
Jessie Goree seconded the motion, which fail 5-3.
Chairwoman Dr. Pam Adamson, Vice Chairwoman Alieka Anderson, Ophelia Burroughs, Mary Baker and Judy Johnson voted down the motion. Goree, Bivins and Michael King were for tabling the contract.
The board voted 5-2 for a $220,000 base salary on the contract with Jackson.
Adamson, Anderson, Burroughs, Baker and Johnson were in favor. Bivins and Michael King were opposed. Goree abstained. Mark Christmas was absent.
The outcome was similar to the 5-4 split vote earlier this month, when opposition members expressed outrage that other members who chose not to adhere to the results of a public survey that cost the board $2,000.
The survey revealed that a majority of respondents preferred some form of superintendent search over simply appointing Jackson to the post.
But Adamson, Anderson, Burroughs, Baker and Johnson went another route voting to appoint Jackson as the permanent superintendent. The same five voted to approve Jackson’s contract Monday.