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21 August 2008

Incompetence Not Racism Ruined Clayton County Schools

As you may know, the Clayton County School System is on the verge of losing its accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) unless the school system meets nine mandates to get back on track before September 1st.

One of the nine mandates outlined by SACS was "establishing a governing board that is capable of fulfilling its roles and responsibilities."

In the July 15th primary and August 5th primary run-off, Clayton County voters took a big step towards meeting that first mandate by tossing out most, if not all, of the incumbent school board members who put the school system's accreditation at risk.

Unfortunately, for both Clayton County Schools and the people of the south metro county in general, the ousted school board members have a few more months left on their terms. And they aren't using their remaining time in office wisely.

Instead of working their tails off to maintain their school system's accreditation, Clayton County School Board members such as Lois Baines-Hunter and Michelle Strong are spending their energy playing the blame game. According to AJC reports, Michelle Strong "blamed the board’s woes on SACS, calling the accreditation agency’s allegations 'unmitigated.'" In addition, Lois Baines-Hunter "blamed many of the board’s mistakes on what she viewed as poor advice from attorneys and on interim superintendent Gloria Duncan, who she called 'not strong'" [Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution, "Clayton school board members share the blame, and pass it", August 19, 2008]

To make matters worse, school board attorney Rodney Moore made a wild accusation that the five concerned Clayton County parents who filed a complaint asking Gov. Perdue to remove Baines-Hunter and others from the school board only did so because they're white and the board members they want removed are black.

"None of these school board members you filed a petition to remove represent your district," Moore told one of the residents during the hearing. "As I look at the table, I see five white petitioners against four black defendants." [Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution, "Lawyer: School board complaint is about race", August 20, 2008]

Ironically, Lois Baines-Hunter summed up my feelings on Rodney Moore's arguments very succinctly even though she wasn't addressing him.

"If you don’t have good legal representation on a school board, you are lost," Baines-Hunter said.

It is clear that the outgoing Clayton County School Board members do not have good legal representation. And it is also clear, based on their attorney's defense strategy, that the school board members believe that their school system's problems is everyone's fault but their own.