City DopeNews

School Board Sends Public Comment Policy Back to Committee

During meetings of the Clarke County School Board the past few months, public speakers have told board member Tawana Mattox such things as, “I wish you were dead,” and “I know where you live.”

She watched with alarm as the board meetings sometimes devolved into call-and-response gatherings. She came to believe the speakers who couldn’t be civil and finish their remarks within a three-minute limit needed a consequence. A policy revision would have prohibited speakers from speaking at board meetings for three months if, after receiving a warning, they exceeded the time limit and directed personal comments to board members.

At their regular April board meeting, the school board voted 7–2 to send the policy back to the policy committee for “wordsmithing,” as member Charles Worthy suggested. Mattox and policy committee chair Greg Davis were the only two members voting to move the policy forward with current revisions.

Member Patricia Yager will survey school boards around the state to see how others handle similar issues. Armed with this information, the policy committee will then “wordsmith” the policy and return another revised version to the board. With the coronavirus outbreak, there’s no chance of anyone attending a school board meeting—possibly not until August—since the meetings are virtual.

In other actions:

• The board learned the district had $66.8 million in assets in February, that CCSD is spending much less money on bus fuel, and that finance officials expect a drop in ESPLOST revenue. 

• It also learned the district has paid the Employment Law Solution firm $21,000 from the general fund for legal services through the end of March. Atlanta-based ELS is the law firm the board hired to help with Cognia’s accreditation review in January and negotiate a settlement with former superintendent Demond Means, who remains on paid administrative leave four months after the board voted to remove him.

• The board approved creating an 8-lane track at Clarke Central and installing Astro-turf on a Clarke Central football field. The cost for both projects is $6 million.