Tremors from the scandal that continues to rock the Atlanta area schools has caused an additional shake up that could have far reaching consequences for the schools. New leadership has assumed narrow control of the Atlanta Board of Education but that control could be short lived and fleeting. The change of leadership has not been a smooth one and legal proceedings are in the works so nothing is yet certain. Still, the new leadership is looking to make some changes.
The controversy began on a Monday when members of the board voted to change the rules to allow leadership changes. These changes allowed a slim majority to oust sitting chairwoman LaChandra Butler Burks and vice chairwoman Cecily Harsch-Kinnane. Replacing Burks and Harsch-Kinnane are Khaatim Sherrer El as the new chairman and Yolanda Johnson as the new vice-chairwoman. The board went ahead with the votes despite the board’s attorney advising against it and amid protests from those who now find themselves in the minority.
“You don’t even have a cause, except you don’t like the way [the former chairwoman] did things, according to some of you,” member Emmett Johnson said. “Do y’all believe in the rule of law?”
Members are seeking advice from the State Attorney General’s office as to the legality of the actions and Mayor Kasim Reed has also urged the board to show caution and come to a consensus.
Never the less the changes have been made for now but have not stopped the contentions atmosphere that has gripped a school board that is in the middle of a CRCT cheating scandal. New leadership has a slim 5-4 majroity. (ajc.com)
In a recent interview over at the ajc.com, new chairman Khaatim Sherrer El spoke up about several of the issues he feels the board is facing. Among the man topics, El mentioned transparency, specifically in the cheating investigation as one of those that for him, really stood out.
“I ca’t let go of this issue of transparency. I was completely shocked and floored to find out about the decisions that had been made about the coming together of the Blue Ribbon Commission [which completed a local investigation that Gov. Sonny Perdue deemed inadequate] before this board even had a chance to formulate a plan about how we wanted to move forward. We don’t know what we would have done unless we had the time to really engage in full discussion as a board and all information was shared across the board.” El said during the interview.
When asked about the status of current superintendent Dr. Beverly L. Hall, El seemed to think that a change in that position was not a good idea consider the current crisis.
“We’re in the eye of a storm, and it would be irresponsible of this board to make a change in the administration at this time. That’s not a conversation for today. It’s one that we will have to have as a normal course of the board doing the board’s work. I was so excited to hear that Georgia received the Race to the Top funding. And there are opportunities this school board has talked about for years related to growth models and “value add” [teacher evaluation] systems that make more sense than looking at test scores year-to-year comparing apples to oranges. Those are things that we’ve been in conversation with Dr. Hall about for the last several years and … we certainly want her eyes and attention on those matters for us.”
El and his colleagues seem to be seeking to get back in touch with their constituents and creating more communication between themselves and the electorate. It remains to be seen not only if this new leadership can succeed in its goals but also whether it will be allowed to even try.