A day after the head of the agency that accredits Cherokee offered a stinging rebuke of legislation that would change the way local residents elect members of the Board of Education, the Blue Ribbon Commission that recommended the changes has reversed course.
The committee, which was tasked with redistricting the county Board of Education and Board of Commissioners posts, had recommended the seats on both be voted on by residents in those specific districts. The committee also recommended that the school board and commission chairman seats be elected at-large.
This afternoon, committee members said they could no longer endorse such an approach if it jeopardized the district's accreditation status.
Below is the full text of the letter to metro Atlanta media outlets.
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Since Rep Hamilton wanted to pull us back into the debate and the delegation constantly refers our split plurality opinion that we rendered back in January, several members of the commission have this response to his open letter this morning.
Note: this is the opinion of the majority of people I was able to reach on such a short time frame (since HB 978 is currently moving in the Senate). This is the letter that I sent them this afternoon.
Open Letter to the Members of the Cherokee Delegation that appointed the Blue Ribbon Commission,
On behalf of members of the Blue Ribbon Commission, I write you today with grave concerns for the recommendation that we gave you at the January 30th meeting for the Cherokee County School Board. As we mentioned at that meeting, two weeks was little time to get all of the facts that we needed. Since then, it has come to light that SACS has a problem with our recommendations. Specifically, they take issue with the election of a chairman via the voting process instead of one chosen within the board. Given the concerns of Dr. Mark Elgart, president of SACS, the legislation (HB 978) should be changed to reflect the problems that he has outlined. Therefore, these members change our recommendation to the following: eliminate the position of a chairman coming from the county at-large position instead allowing the chairman to be voted within the board itself. This would address the concerns of SACS and prevent major issues with the accrediting organization that have plagued Clayton and DeKalb counties in recent years and Cherokee County in the 1990s.