After attending a charity basketball tournament last year, Clayton County school board member Jessie Goree fired off an email to the school superintendent complaining about the “deplorable state” of the bleachers at two high schools.
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Requirements for election, developed by a local school board in Georgia after the Clayton accreditation crisis
*Must reside in the school district and election district in which the candidate is running.
*Cannot serve on the governing body of a private elementary or seconary educational institution.
*Cannot be employed by the local board of education, the Georgia Department of Education or the State Board of Education.
*Cannot have a family member who is a superintendent, school principal or assistant principal.
*Must sign an affidavidit, promising to obey board’s code of ethics and policies on conflicts of interest and to show compliance each year with board member training requirements.
*Cannot be on the National Sex Offender Registry or the state sexual offender registry.
*Must meet other county election requirements.
Highlights of Senate Bill 84, signed into law May 25, 2010*
Sparked by accreditation controversies in Clayton, elsewhere
“School board members hold special roles as trustees of public funds, including local, state and federal funds, while they focus on the singular objective of ensuring each student in the local school system receives a quality basic education.”
Duties of board members: (1) vision setting; (2) policymaking; (3) approving multimillion-dollar budgets, hiring a qualified superintendent.
“Given the specialized nature and unique role of membership on a local board of education, this elected office should be characterized and treated differently from other elected offices where the primary duty is independently to represent constituent views.”
“It shall not be the role of the local board of education or individual members of such board to micromanage the superintendent in executing his or her duties, but it shall be the duty of the local board to hold the local school superintendent accountable in the performance of his or her duties.”
“Local board of education members should work together with the entire local board of education and shall not have authority as independent elected officials but shall only be authorized to take official action as members of the board as a whole.”
“No local board of education member shall use or attempt to use his or her official position to secure unwarranted privileges, advantages, or employment for himself or herself, his or her immediate family member, or others.”
Digging deep. In April, accrediting agency SACS will review how the Clayton school board operates and will determine whether evidence of in-fighting and micromanaging has rendered the board ineffective. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reviewed hundreds of emails between board members and the district’s former superintendent and conducted interviews within the district and throughout the county to shed light on whether the relationships are working.