ATLANTA — As the Clayton County legislative delegation battles to recoup some sort of airport income for the Clayton County Public Schools, Superintendent Morcease Beasley and Rep. Valencia Stovall traded angry e-mails, culminating in Stovall denouncing Beasley from the well of the Georgia House Friday.
“Although he sent an apology, it was a day too late,” Stovall told the Georgia House of Representatives. “The Clayton County School Superintendent overstepped his duties, and for the above reasons stated, I am calling for his resignation or the Board of Education to terminate his contract immediately, because they must hold a superintendent accountable in the performance of his duty for not using wisdom. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I yield the well.”
Following an emergency town hall meeting March 5, which Stovall had called to discuss legislation affecting the county, Beasley sent an e-mail to the entire Clayton County delegation accusing her of not backing the current ESPLOST referendum.
Stovall, a proponent of cameras in special education classrooms, told the News she had concerns with how the ESPLOST funding would be spent and that it would have made sense to include cameras for classrooms in the ballot measure.
Beasley’s e-mail, dated March 6, was addressed to all members of the Clayton County State House and Senate, as well as to the Clayton County School Board and Sherry Smith. In it, he accused Stovall of “basically shar[ing] that she would not support the SPLOST referendum due to our decision to not focus on placing cameras in Special Education classrooms.”
Beasley wrote, “While Rep. Stovall is entitled to her opinion and position, I am disappointed to hear and see such a trivial reason used to basically advocate against the provision of continued facility resources to support educational programming and learning for the children of Clayton County. The Morrow, Forest Park, Jonesboro and Lovejoy Communities, as well as all other communities to benefit from a passed SPLOST VI referendum don’t deserve this.”
Beasley went on to call Stovall’s alleged opposition to the sales tax “irresponsible, reckless, and should be questioned, highlighted, and corrected,” citing “the stalled work and facility and HVAC issues that could not be addressed due to a lack of funding.”
The ESPLOST referendum, if passed, would be earmarked to build three new schools, as well as buy unspecified technology upgrades.
Stovall, who has served as a state representative for six years, responded to all in the e-mail chain but addressed her reply specifically to “the CCPS Board Members who are the employers of Dr. Morcease Beasley (the employee),” pointing out their “authority to hire, fire, and reprimand the actions of Supt. Beasley (the employee),” who she stated “clearly overstepped his duties by sending a fabricated and manipulated e-mail bringing to question my actions as a State Elected Official and my loyalty to my county.”
In particular, Stovall was angry because “Supt. Beasley (the employee) was not in attendance at my meeting so whatever information he received was ‘second hand.’ However among those 40 plus people in attendance affiliated with the school system were Chair Jesse Goree, Member Ben Straker, and Associate Supt. Dr. Anthony Smith, who should be able to attest that at no time during my meeting did I say I was against ESPLOST.”
The timing is critical on both sides. While voters decide on whether to pass the ESPLOST, state lawmakers are hustling to recoup some of the schools’ $10 million annual deficit from the loss of the airport jet fuel tax. That requires delicate negotiations with proponents of the state’s effort to take control of the airport away from the city of Atlanta. Both the county delegation and members of the public have expressed little sympathy for Atlanta, as the airport sits on Clayton County land.
“I expressed my concerns as to how the proposed ESPLOST list was created and that it didn’t include cameras for special need students, which I had been advocating for three years,” Stovall told the Georgia House during special orders Friday. “And in the 2009 SPLOST, where there was money that was supposed to be set aside to build a charter middle school, but a magnet school was built. I never said at that meeting that I was against the ESPLOST. The next day, the school superintendent sent out an email to the delegation and board members, reprimanding me by stating that I was against the ESPLOST….and that such persons shouldn’t be leading in this community and should be challenged.
“The most amazing part about it was that the superintendent was not in attendance at my meeting, and was receiving second-hand information,” Stovall said. “However, among over 40 people in attendance, and 3 were affiliated with the school system, who were the board chair, another board member, and an administrator, along with Rep. [Sandra] Scott, all of whom know and can attest that at no time did I quote I was against the ESPLOST.
“Nobody in Clayton County, nor at this Capitol, nor in this state can question my commitment to my county, Stovall said, “even now as the school system is getting ready to have a deficit in January.”
The News has asked Beasley to clarify his remarks. Beasley replied, “Thank you for the email. I’ve copied my team to prepare my responses to submit to you.” When asked whether he would prefer to answer for himself, Beasley responded, “I will send my comments through my media department. They will be my comments. Thanks.”
Despite asking for a deadline to send comments on Beasley’s behalf, CCPS’ media department did not respond by 5 p.m. Friday.
The News received this response from CCPS Communications on behalf of Beasley at 5:33 p.m. Friday after business hours:
“As Superintendent, I have voiced my concerns relative to the potential impact of SPLOST opposition with Rep Stovall and the Clayton Delegation. I also shared an apology for any perceived offense. We will continue to always work together to lift and edify our children. We will continue to work together with all in the best interest of the children and families of Clayton County.”
See Stovall’s full remarks from the House well at https://youtu.be/89zlqwQ-HW0?t=2539 .
See all Georgia House of Representatives video broadcasts and archives at http://www.house.ga.gov/mediaServices/en-US/VideoBroadcasts.aspx