From the state Board of Education:
The State Board of Education today voted unanimously to recommend to the Governor suspension with pay of the Miller County Board of Education. The State Board conducted a hearing pursuant to O.C.G.A. 20-2-73, relating to recommendations for potential suspension of local boards of education for governance related issues. Attached is a copy of the Georgia code section for reference.
The following statement was read by the Chair of the State Board of Education, Barbara Hampton at the conclusion of the hearing:
Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 20-2-73(a)(1), Suspension and removal of local school board members under certain circumstances, the Georgia State Board of Education has received and reviewed all reports requested since the initial hearing date of November 28, 2011 in addition to the testimony heard and evidence presented today. In accordance with the official vote, the State Board of Education hereby recommends to the Governor to suspend with pay all members of the Miller County Board of Education this day of March 20, 2012.
For background, I went to the Miller County Liberal, the longtime local newspaper. This is from a November story:
This was all started in July 2011, when Georgia AdvancED/ SACS received a complaint from Superintendent McIntosh that a board member approved repairs on the school that was not approved by the BOE, and that this board member discussed confidential information during one of the executive sessions on a cell phone. These complaints cite violations of GeorgiaAdvancED/ SACS governance and leadership according to the superintendent’s letter. He went further to describe the Miller County School Board meetings “bordering on becoming dysfunctional” and the Board seemed to operate in a state of turmoil since January 2011.
Subsequent to the superintendent’s complaint, two BOE members visited the Georgia AdvancED/SACS office and discussed several complaints, one being a BOE member moved out of the district that he was elected to represent, and that the previous and current BOE members violated their own policy CEA that requires the school superintendent to be a citizen of Miller County, thereby violated House Bill 977 which prohibits local boards from using state funds to give the local superintendent or administrators’ raises when other employees are being furloughed. There were several other alleged violations of governance and leadership.
In addition to reviewing documents, the Special Review Team members conducted numerous interview with various stakeholders from the Miller County School System. The team held extensive interviews with five board members, the current and former superintendents, two central office members, three principals, three teachers, a parent, a paraprofessional, and two community members, along with written information from stakeholders.
The committee found sufficient evidence to support a finding that Miller County Schools are in violation of AdvancED Accreditation Standards and policies.
The Miller County Schools appear to be in violation of:
Standard 1:Vision and Purpose; Standard 2: Governance and Leadership; Standard 5 Resources and Support Systems; Standard 7: Commitment to Continuous Improvement.
There are pages of indicators concerning problems with the schools, superintendent, and board members, and their duties, responsibilities and authority, and abuse of authority.
The board members only have authority as a board, not individually. The superintendent only has authority and power as giving by the board. The Board Code of Ethics is in question.
The superintendent and the board are in violation of their own Policy CEA (Superintendent Qualifications). This policy requires that the superintendent be a “citizen of the county and of the state.” The current superintendent is not a citizen of Miller County, and was not at the time he was hired by the board.
The school do not have textbooks for some of the classes.
The stakeholders, nor the public have been requested or solicited to give input into what goes on with students, monies, scheduling, reduction in force, programs being cancelled or budget reductions. The prevalent pattern of most decision making appears to be that of the superintendent making recommendations and board members approve it, often by a 3-2 vote.
Based on the findings of the Special Review Team, it is concluded that the Miller County Schools are in violation of the following AdvancED Standards for Schools: Standard 1, Indicators 1.1,1.2; Standard 2, Indicators 2.2,2.3; Standard 5, Indicator 5.5; Standard 7, Indicator 7.1. In accordance with AdvanceED policies, the Miller County Schools have been placed in the accreditation status of “Probation” through June 2012. The Miller County School System must host a Monitoring Team visit no later than May 15, 2012, for the purpose of assessing the progress made to complying with the Special Review Team’s Required Actions given. There are nine directives given that are required. These requirements will be published in another addition along with what may happen to our schools, our students and our community.
The Special Review Team stated that it is the responsibility of the superintendent to ensure that the content of this report is shared with the community.
This information was received from one of the new board members, and not the superintendent or from the board. The board seldom has regular or called meeting that does not include “executive sessions” that take any shareholder or public citizens. State law does not require closed meetings.
In the closing comments, it seemed that the Special Review Team agreed with the superintendent as he described as “bordering on dysfunctional.” Evidence gathered confirms a lack of respect and professional conduct among and between board members and the superintendent.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog