As president of the NAACP Athens-Clarke County Branch No. 5180, I have attempted to schedule a community meeting with Clarke County School District Board of Education members since May 6. According to the board’s policy, this request was appropriate. As a result, the Athens-Clarke County branch of the NAACP received on May 12 a response letter from the board’s attorney. It was a slight improvement in approach to previously received concerns expressed to the CCSD BOE by our local NAACP branch.
Disappointingly, the response did not provide the level of depth that we demanded as the civil rights advocates for the children of our community. Therefore, the NAACP continued its pursuit to have a community meeting with the Board of Education.
The Board of Education knew there were two pressing priorities that the community wanted to discuss with them: reinstating Demond Means from his status of administrative leave back to serving as superintendent, and the Cognia report that threatens the Clarke County School District’s accreditation.
The BOE, in my opinion, has shown a lack of integrity in addressing our concerns by delaying the date to meet with the community to give responses to our concerns. They knew the community was desiring for them to hear their voices in giving responses to the above listed concerns.
After several changes in dates and procedures, the BOE finally settled on Aug. 4 at 6 p.m. to respond to some of the community concerns. In the meantime, they scheduled a called meeting to make a decision on Means’ contract on July 23. At this meeting, five BOE members voted to buy out Means’ contract for $637,500. This action in reality probably has a cost that is closer to $1 million when you add in the two superintendent salaries and attorney fees.
This latest action by the BOE (exiting the superintendent) is very disheartening and could further increase the divide with the community, especially with the all the white members voting to exit Means without cause, that was suggested by C.J. Amason. We were hoping that our community discussion with the board would be a trust builder wherein all of us could work together for all of the children. This is still our hope for the Aug. 4 community meeting despite this action that promulgates a clear breach of trust. Finally, we are looking forward to this community meeting being the catalyst to the BOE being willing to respond to community concerns.
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