Two senators want AG to investigate Deal session with APS for open meetings violation

Atlanta Sen. Vincent Fort contends that the Atlanta school board meeting with the governor Tuesday possibly violated the open meetings law and is asking the state attorney general to investigate.

The meeting with Nathan Deal, Mayor Kasim Reed, Superintendent Beverly Hall and APS board members was closed to the public and the media.

“They are using a tortured logic to justify closing the meeting,” says Fort.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution objected to the closed session, maintaining that the Georgia Open Meetings Act requires such meetings to be open to the public because a quorum of the board was present.

At a 2 p.m. press conference at the Coverdell Legislative Office Building,  Fort and Sen. Horacena Tate (D-Atlanta) will ask Attorney General Sam Olens investigate a potential violation of the open meeting law.

After the meeting, Deal said he was impressed that board members were willing “to put issues aside and work together” to regain full accreditation for Atlanta Public Schools.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

24 comments Add your comment

catlady

April 27th, 2011
12:08 pm

The plus to the closed meeting was maybe there was less posturing for the cameras (see Fort, Vincent). Doesn’t mean I disagree with him, but he doesn’t need to be constantly putting his face out there.

Just Wondering

April 27th, 2011
12:23 pm

@catlady…Amen to that.

Concerned Tax Payer

April 27th, 2011
12:38 pm

I think it’s especially interesting that at 3:42pm, after the ‘big meetup’ at the Capitol yesterday, this notice was released:

NOTICE OF POSTPONEMENT ETHICS COMMISSION MEETING

Scheduled Date & Time:

April 27, 2011 at 7:00 pm

The Ethics Commission of the Board of Education of the Atlanta Independent School System investigatory meeting on an alleged ethics violation by Board members Courtney English, At-Large (Seat 9), Yolanda Johnson, Educational District 6, and Nancy Meister, Educational District 4 has been postponed until further notice.

Howard W. Grant, Ph.D.
Executive Administrator

I did not receive a similar notice of postponement for the ethics commission meeting for Mr. Sherrer-El (to take place on May 4 at 7pm).

Wondering

April 27th, 2011
12:38 pm

I see two exceptions to the Open Meetings Act. The first is in the definition of a meeting. “The assembling together of a quorum of the members of a governing body or committee … or for the purposes of meeting with the governing bodies, officers, agents, or employees of other agencies at places outside the geographical jurisdiction of an agency and at which no final official action is to be taken shall not be deemed a “meeting.” The Governor is an agent of the state providing oversight or governance.

The second is in the exceptions section. “Meetings when discussing or deliberating upon the appointment, employment, compensation, hiring, disciplinary action or dismissal, or periodic evaluation or rating of a public officer or employee …” The Governor was discussing possible dismissal of the board and was evaluating their progress.

I don’t think it should take the AG long to evaluate the law, and it appears to me to be an appropriate meeting to close. Closing it also allows people to be frank without worry of coming across as playing politics.

Clueless

April 27th, 2011
12:42 pm

Elected officials in Georgia don’t care about Open Meetings Laws.

Atlanta Education, Politics and Business

April 27th, 2011
12:50 pm

Any discussion about APS, education or the elected ABE is about public business that neither the Governor or the Mayor was elected by the public to manage. Accordingly, there is nothing that the Governor or the Mayor should have discussed with the ABE that should not have occurred with the public in attendance.

The fact that the meeting was not fully open and transparent means that the Governor, the Mayor and the business community who is operating behind the scenes did not want the public to know what was being discussed. If the public heard what they were saying, then our perceptions (and our votes) would likely be affected during the next election cycle.

Even with all of the Atlanta business community’s money being thrown behind Deal & Reed the next election, they still need the vote count to be re-elected – that is until the Governor and/or the Mayor pass a bill allowing Atlanta business interests to nullify our voting rights with respect to those elected offices too.

When in doubt, the elected officials should always err on the side of opening meetings to the public – but they know this and will shut the door to get “business done.”

General Sherman

April 27th, 2011
12:56 pm

Maybe Atlanta business interests should go ahead and take a torch to 130 Trinity (APS headquarters), so that 55 Trinity (the Mayor’s headquarters) can formally run the school system.

Better yet, maybe the people who dine at the Capitol City and Piedmont Driving Clubs can enter into a long-term lease and at least pay the citizens at Atlanta some rent for the offices they are running (albeit running into the ground).

Where are the citizens protecting their system of public education for the children of Atlanta?

They are likely at work right now preparing their bids for the contracting phase of the prisons that will need to be built to deal with the future generation of uneducated youth who will need a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs and food in their stomachs when they are of adult age and unemployable.

Atlanta – the “city too busy to hate” is also the “city too busy making deals with Deal” to care about education.

Dr NO

April 27th, 2011
1:23 pm

Fort and Tate are the poster children for tortured logic.

tim

April 27th, 2011
1:31 pm

Told ya in a previous posting that clown Vinnie Fort would inject himself into the Deal/APS meeting. I’ll be batting 1000% when Racist J Lowery gets his 2 cents in.

Dr NO

April 27th, 2011
2:46 pm

OH YEAH…Useless Lowery probably wont be able to resist. He is a real hater.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

April 27th, 2011
3:00 pm

Concerned APS parents, teachers, and administrators:

Please keep your eye on the prize of student learning. Don’t allow your attention and energy to be diverted to, and squandered upon, any of the rings comprising the SACS-accreditation circus.

PatDowns

April 27th, 2011
3:01 pm

AJC and WSB-TV are upset that it wasn’t the DeKalb BOE meeting with Deal and Kasim. Then they would of had an inside mole (who would remain anonymous, of course) to leak all the meeting details.

Larry Major

April 27th, 2011
3:33 pm

@Wondering, Nice work.

The AJC’s exception is noted.
Next issue.

Top School

April 27th, 2011
4:31 pm

Buckhead conducts their meetings according to their own set of rules and standards.

Deal is willing to do anything it takes to keep the spotlight off his sponsoring buddies in the neighborhood.

This is all smoke and mirrors to keep your eyes off the real issues. Misuse of public funds, fraud, and falsification of the records.

http://www.TopPublicSchoolCorruptionAtlanta.com

Top School

April 27th, 2011
4:37 pm

This governor will do more of the same…

APS-A False Path of Success without Honesty and Integrity
Posted on August 26, 2010 (ALMOST A YEAR LATER AND WHAT PROGRESS HAS BEEN MADE?)
Will someone finally unravel the real problems within Atlanta Public Schools?

I believe APS RETALIATION against any individual attempting to file a grievance and report wrong doing by their superiors in Atlanta Public Schools is the REAL PROBLEM.

Current investigations need to include former APS employees attempting to use the APS Office of Internal Resolutions. They are the scapegoats in this horse and pony show. Allegations of cheating on standardized tests do not expose the other areas APS officials have so disgracefully “cheated”. The intimidation tactics APS uses in their fake investigations and retaliatory grievance processes have set the ground work for Beverly Hall’s current headache.

Is Governor Perdue’s creation of a state investigation yet another “mock investigation” that covers up the unethical conduct of APS teachers, principals, and administrators for misused funds, falsification of records, and hidden segregation?

The State Professional Standards Commission has been given past reports of unethical APS conduct that have been rightfully reported and later expunged on the basis of “who knows who” in the underground railroad of the Northside Good Ole Boy System.

SOMEBODY with ethics needs to look at the video recorded depositions along with sworn testimonies in a 2004 federal lawsuit. The testimonies of teachers and administrators in this case exposed APS officials and a Northside Principal for falsifying payroll documents, attendance documents, the segregation of minority students, and the misrepresentation of documents to qualify a school for a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence Award…it’s all recorded in the testimonies of Civil Action File No. 1:03-CV-03178-JOF.

APS officials participated in a relentless campaign of retaliation against teachers at a Northside Elementary School willing to step up to the corruption they observed by filing APS grievances. Ironically, APS documents clearly stated they would protect those involved in requesting internal investigations.

APS has an ongoing history of retaliation against anyone that would question any of their procedures. Ask any former Atlanta Public School Employee. FORMER…because current APS employees know all too well they will lose their jobs if they speak up.

The 2004 depositions clearly demonstrate proof that the same State Rules of Ethics for APS administrators on the Southside of city… do not apply to the APS adminstrators on the Northside of Atlanta.

APS OFFICIALS AND THE PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS COMMISSION ignored reports and the video taped depositions that proved the following acts were committed by a Northside APS principal:

* Payroll records to obtain a paycheck for the principal’s daughter for almost a year.
* Falsified attendance records of faculty and students.
* Retaliation against teachers willing to report and testify against APS
* Falsified information to obtain a Blue Ribbon School Award.
* Segregation of minority students in Northside Atlanta Public Schools
* Falsified criteria and dates for Bonus Paychecks paid to faculty members.

Considering that this particular Northside APS elementary website states that their PTA could ” run Washington, DC “, it is no wonder the connected neighborhood can keep their powerful strong arm when negotiating unethical conduct of their principals to Atlanta Public School officials.

Should the Southside not enjoy the same benefit of corruption?

Beverly Hall, Kathy Augustine, and the APS comptroller will need the higher tax base and prominence of the Northside’s privileged to save their current positions. These APS high-ranking officials have been covering up the Northside secrets in exchange for political favors for years.

The malicious acts of this Northside principal were ignored by APS and PSC officials when there was clearly evidence that deserved their attention.

Will these acts of cheating on standardized tests receive an equal blind eye?

My hope is that finally, the truth will emerge so the Professional Standards Commission and Atlanta Public School Grievance Procedures provide a safety net for any one wishing to report wrong doing within the school’s system.

My fear is that the entire system…from Sonny Perdue’s State Office of Investigations, the Professional Standards Commission, and the Office of Internal Resolutions within APS will continue with their selective witch hunts to the detriment of the “success” of our education system.

In Beverly Hall’s own words she states, ” Could you cheat in all these schools?” adding, “You would have to spend your whole life cheating…It’s been nine years of consistent progress.”

History has proven Hall’s similar LEADERSHIP tactics of FEAR, INTIMIDATION AND RETALIATION. Will the governor peel back the layers that expose this corruption?

Hide and watch.

chillywilly

April 27th, 2011
5:25 pm

@Top School – I agree with you that there needs to be an investigation of APS central office practices. I believe that OIR investigations that were conducted by Penn Payne, are corrupt to the core. CFO Chuck Burbridge, Controller Nader Sohrab and Accounting Manager Crissi Calhoun should be investigated for retaliation against current and former employees and covering up time & attendance cheating.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

April 27th, 2011
8:48 pm

Top School:

If you have evidence of fraud, waste or abuse involving federal funds, why don’t you contact the IG of the USDOE? Her e-mail address is:
oig.hotline@ed.gov.

Atlanta mom

April 27th, 2011
10:40 pm

Thank you Dr. Spinks

APS Parent #2

April 28th, 2011
12:50 am

I agree. Thank you Dr. Spinks.

I just hope the line is not too busy and I can get through.

Top School

April 28th, 2011
12:58 pm

They have all the information they need on the video taped testimony in this case. It was sent to everyone…What you folks sitting out there in your ethical education bubble don’t seem to understand is this…they really don’t care…

All these entities are helping each other in the handshaking game of politics at the taxpayer’s expense.The connected folk with the Buckhead business community are connected to hip bone of the folk at the governor’s mansion. Those at Georgia Professional Standards Commission and the Federal CONNECTED at the USDOE/ Federal Courthouse are all licking out of the same bowl…along with the SACS accreditation team.

What is amazing is those of you that think these agencies are designed to stop the corruption. They are designed to keep the corruption covered-up.

All of this has been reported…to ALL entities. These are the CONNECTED FOLK…and the same rules of conduct and ethics do not apply to those in the elite positions.

It’s like calling 911 on the Southside of Atlanta…or trying to get a pot hole fixed on Bankhead …

or reporting fraud on a NORTHSIDE APS school…it is not considered NEWSWORTHY.

http://www.TopPublicSchoolCorruptionAtlanta.com

Ernest

April 28th, 2011
3:07 pm

Maureen, please close the loop on this when you hear something. Assuming what Wondering said is true, this may be a very short investigation.

Maureen Downey

April 28th, 2011
4:02 pm

@Ernest, I have not heard the AG’s response yet.
Maureen

Parent of Former APS Student

April 28th, 2011
9:01 pm

@ Top School – I agree with you! As a parent of a former APS student, I have witnessed and experienced first hand the tactics of intimidation and retaliation that you stated occurs by APS officials when they are challenged for wrongdoing or failure to abide by policies and procedures as mandated at the federal, state, and local level. What really caught my eye today was the AJC article stating that Randolph Bynum had been selected to be the Superintendent for Sumter County Schools in SC and my first thought was whether these people have been paying attention or are they all in cahoots with each other. Based on my personal experience with several of the most senior level officials from APS to include Beverly Hall, Randolph Bynum, and many of their direct reports, it is my recommendation that they all be sent packing and never allowed to work for another school district! What in the world – you mess up one school district and then get promoted to go off and do the same thing in another school district. Instead of putting all the emphasis on what the Board Members are doing, someone needs to be looking into what is really going on at 130 Trinity Ave and put the appropriate measures in place to replace the people who are getting paid to bring more harm than good to the children of Atlanta Public Schools. And to Mayor Reed, what is amazing to me is that when I came to you as a concerned citizen to report the wrongdoing that was occuring at the hands of APS officials, it’s quite funny how the response I received was that you had no authority to get involved in what was happening in Atlanta Public Schools, even when there was blatant wrongdoing that was affecting the citizens of your city, however now that accreditation is at risk, which means it could have an impact on the economy of the city, then all of a sudden you rise to the occasion as a mayor who is concerned about the impact the school district is having on your city. The thought that should have come to mind when you were notified of the wrong doing was that what they were doing to the least of them, only served as a reflection of a much bigger problem that could and would cause devastating effects on a much larger population of the citizens of from your city and at that point, perhaps you should have opened your eyes and taken action in an effort to avoid what is now going on with the school district. Here this, last year this time, my parting words to Dr. Hall, Dr. Bynum, and several other top officials from APS were “nothing good will happen for this school district until you all do right by the children that you have been hired and entrusted to educate!” What you all are now witnessing is the fallout of the warning that was previously issued and I am afraid that it may get worst before it gets better.

Top School

April 29th, 2011
3:12 pm

These elite Wall Street , Priests bail each other out of the trouble they cause. They have not developed a Madoff scapegoat to serve the time for their unethical wrong doings in public education…so they are all covering for each other. Guilty they should have their license to operate in education revoked. ANY TEACHER’S LICENSE WOULD HAVE BEEN REMOVED FOR MUCH LESS.

These hiring of the TOP APS officials in other school districts just adds icing to the cake of corruption…

The Catholic Church does the same with their unethical priests…Politics as usual…

http://www.TopPublicSchoolCorruptionAtlanta.com