The chair of the Cherokee County Board of Education is asking the governor to veto House Bill 978, which is one of the most surprising and invasive pieces of local legislation this session. I am uncertain why a GOP-led body would violate its less government/local control mantra to meddle in a county with a darn good school system.
This bill has already drawn fire from SACS, the accrediting agency that oversees Cherokee schools.
I doubt Cherokee will get much help from Nathan Deal, who often takes a see no evil, hear no evil posture with the Legislature, but this bill does strike at the heart of much of what the governor professes to believe about the rights of local voters to decide their representation.
HB 978 has been described as payback to the Cherokee school board for nixing a charter school application, which again surprises me as there were legitimate concerns about the project.
I think the lesson here is that politicians of any party will violate their own foundational beliefs to make a point and punish an adversary. (I think in school it is called bullying.)
March 30, 2012
The Honorable Governor Nathan Deal,
On behalf of the Cherokee County School Board and as Chairman of the School Board, I again respectfully request that you veto House Bill 978, which I have learned was submitted to you for your signature on March 29, 2012.
As I have stated in my two previous requests, this bill is not the will of the School Board or the public.
The School Board last fall unanimously adopted a Legislative Program that was presented to the Delegation; the first priority in that program was to maintain the current governance model. The School Board, also at a public meeting last year, by a super majority, approved a reapportionment map and sent it to the Delegation.
There is no need for you to sign HB 978 and change the posts and the governance model. A 2002 court case over the same issue in Cobb County determined there is no legal requirement for the Legislature to reapportion when elections are at-large, as they currently are for our School Board. The Delegation’s efforts to redraw the lines to put two incumbents into the same post and to limit how many School Board members voters get to elect are not only obviously political payback, they are also unnecessary.
My greatest concern with this entire situation is protecting the future of our system and the families that rely on it. If House Bill 978 becomes law, it will threaten the past decade of success experienced by the Cherokee County School District, which has been achieved largely in part as a result of the current governance model; and the bill also potentially jeopardizes our School District’s accreditation, which currently is at the highest level attainable by a school system.
I respectfully request that you veto HB 978.
Chairman, Cherokee County Board of Education
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog