Update on Tuesday:
Zepora Roberts issued a statement apologizing to Wendy Saltzman: “In anger and frustration, I inappropriately threatened the reporter. I apologize to the reporter, Wendy Saltzman, for my outburst.”
As a reporter, you get used to people calling you names and accusing you of conspiring against them.
But I have never had any elected official threaten to slug me.
Having seen both DeKalb County school board member Zepora Roberts and CBS Atlanta reporter Wendy Saltzman, I think the fourth estate would have won any smackdown. I would guess Saltzman is 40 years younger than Roberts, one of the grand dames of the DeKalb school board.
This saga began Friday with Saltzman peppering Roberts with questions about her two daughters working in the school system, a fact that many posters here at Get Schooled have raised repeatedly about not only Roberts, but other DeKalb board members.
“I have no more comments to say to you. And don’t you come to me, or I’m going to slug you,” Roberts told the reporter.
But the statement that ought to inspire greater concern is what Roberts told AJC reporter Megan Matteucci, complaining to her that she is being “singled out” since board members Eugene Walker, Pamela Speaks and Sarah Copelin-Wood also have children who work in the district.
Last time I checked, DeKalb had nearly 750,000 residents. Why can’t we find nine who don’t have family members employed by the school district to serve on the board of education?
That is the real problem here, not Roberts’ brushoff of an persistent TV reporter.
No one should serve on a school board if an immediate family member works for the system as an administrator, as does one of Roberts’ daughter. That is now state law under the school board reform bill pushed by Gov. Sonny Perdue and finally enacted this year. But Roberts and current office holders statewide are not under the new rules.
Senate Bill 84 states:
No person who has an immediate family member sitting on a local board of education or serving as the local school superintendent or as a principal, assistant principal, or system administrative staff in the local school system shall be eligible to serve as a member of such local board of education. As used in this paragraph, the term ‘immediate family member’ means a spouse, child, sibling, or parent or the spouse of a child, sibling, or parent whose employment as the local school superintendent or as a principal, assistant principal, or system administrative staff in the local school system began on or after January 1, 2010.
According to Megan’s story, SACS already has asked DeKalb schools officials to answer questions about hiring practices, training, conflict of interest, nepotism, procurement policies and the superintendent search.
I think those are critical areas in DeKalb.