Chapman to Deal: Veto HB 978

House Bill 978, which will change the way Cherokee elects its school board, passed the Senate by a vote of 47-0 on Tuesday.

Cherokee County Board of Education Chairman Mike Chapman is calling on Gov. Nathan Deal to veto House Bill 978, which would  and draw out Chapman and vice chair Janet Read from their districts. 

Despite  and a , the , which has become a flashpoint in the fight for local control of the Cherokee school board.

According to the website of the Georgia General Assembly, the final vote was 47-0 for House Bill 978.

The bill awaits Deal's signature. If he signs it into law, the school board chair will be elected county-wide and school board members will be elected from the posts where they live. 

"This is our last hope for avoiding a change in school board governance structure that may ultimately have an extremely negative impact on the overall quality of the school system and the education delivered to its nearly 40,000 students," Chapman said in a statement. "It’s disappointing that the past 14 years of successful governance by the School Board may possibly be destroyed due to a vendetta led by the Cherokee County Legislative Delegation."

Below is the full text of Chapman's letter to Deal.

• • •

The Honorable Governor Nathan Deal,

This is to request that you veto House Bill 978, as this bill does not reflect the will of the people who will be impacted by it.

House Bill 978 is an effort by Cherokee County’s legislators to restructure the governance model of the School Board and reapportion its posts for political reasons. There is clear evidence of this, as well as of overwhelming community support to keep the governance model as is, and to use basic principles of reappointment to draw post lines…including the avoidance of redrawing two incumbents into the same post.

This bill threatens the past decade of success experienced by the Cherokee County School District, which has been achieved largely in part as a result of the current governance model, which prevented School Board members from putting their own post’s interests above those of the entire county. House Bill 978 also potentially jeopardizes our School District’s accreditation, which currently is at the highest level attainable by a school system, and is crucial for our students in their pursuit of higher education.

In addition to vetoing the bill, I respectfully ask you to urge the Cherokee County Delegation to adopt the map sent to them by the School Board. This map follows the basic principles of reappointment, offers a more even population split, keeps communities of interest such as neighborhoods and voting precincts intact, more closely parallels school attendance zones and doesn’t draw incumbents into the same post.

While I am currently chairman of the School Board, which is the fourth time I have been elected by my peers to a one-year term in this role during my decade on the School Board, I am making this request as an individual Board member. However, I will note that the School Board, at a public meeting last fall, unanimously adopted a Legislative Program that was presented to the Delegation. The first priority in that program was to maintain the current governance model.


Mike Chapman

Chairman, Cherokee County Board of Education

Vic February 29, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Chapman: You can always move.
Charles Childers February 29, 2012 at 09:33 PM
The fact that the Cherokee County delegation has decided to pursue its political agenda (vendettta) against the Cherokee County Board of Education is reprehensible. It is obvious that this is in direct retaliation to the vote on Cherokee Charter Academy.
R February 29, 2012 at 10:00 PM
Why is Dr. P afraid of a private company operating a charter school, but abides by the verdict of a private company as to whether Cherokee schools are accredited?
R.L. Federalist February 29, 2012 at 10:45 PM
R - you're either trolling or you're dim. How can you compare the two? Vic - So can you.
Jennifer Hall February 29, 2012 at 11:59 PM
R -- SACS/CASI is a nationally recognized institution that can determine if a student's high school diploma has meaning. A student that graduates from a high school without accreditation has a slim chance of being accepted into college (facts -- check them out!) That's obviously different from a charter company that has a record of dubious results. Legislators, the parents of Cherokee County will NOT sit idly by and allow you to destroy our children's lives!!!!
R.L. Federalist March 01, 2012 at 01:09 AM
Jennifer, that was very succinctly put but you kinda ruined the fun. I wanted to see if R was capable of putting together a coherent explanation of how a charter school can be compared to an accreditation board and now I'm afraid he won't. ;-(
RJ March 01, 2012 at 02:50 AM
Hey not to throw water on your little SACS is great thingy but in his letter the esteemed Dr. Elgart got it wrong. There are 7 districts that do just what is proposed and elect a chairman county wide. Oh and don't forget CCA is SACS accredited by virtue of being run by a company that holds that accreditation across multiple states.
R.L. Federalist March 01, 2012 at 10:58 AM
I don't think anyone ever said anything about SACS being a "great thingy". Jennifer simply explained why Dr. P is abiding by SACS. As far as there being 7 districts who elect their chair, that may well be true but I'm not sure Dr. Elgart got it wrong. He didn't say that "nobody does it this way", he said it was "highly irregular". Seven districts out of how many? How do those districts compare to Cherokee County? There's one question that nobody seems to be answering, though. "If it isn't broken, why fix it?" We all know the real answer is that this is a vendetta, but you people aren't even TRYING to come up with something that sounds reasonable.
RJ March 01, 2012 at 11:56 AM
Federalist it is not a shock that once again you did not do the research. Dr. Elgart most certainly did his quote is "In fact no other school system in the State of Georgia elects the chair in such a manner." Further in his infinite wisdom Dr. Elgart suggests that the electorate is not capable of electing a competent chair. As for it being broken I would suggest a couple of things 1. Look at the schools that continually are not making AYP like cherokee High. We have gotten excuse after excuse but no fix is coming any time soon for those students. 2. The courts have ruled one man one vote as a principal that must be followed not just some idea some crazy people came up with out of thin air.This map brings the districts in line with the law. Not that system has a problem with breaking the law as we have seen repeatedly. I for one am glad that change is coming. I am tired of the claim we are on of the best in Georgia. It doesn't matter what part of the dung heap you are on you are still dung. Georgia needs radical education reform and we should insist that all children are challenged, provoked, and expected to grow and excel. We should stop believing that just because we warehouse children the best we are actually educating them. Look around see the big picture they are failing when they move on from CCSD. Time to call it like it is and make the changes for a REAL educated citizenry.
R.L. Federalist March 01, 2012 at 01:37 PM
RJ - Can you please cite your quote for Dr. Elgart? I've read the letter that was posted and have found no such quotation. I quoted the letter properly when I used "highly irregular". If he said something different elsewhere, I haven't seen it. As far as his suggestion that the electorate is not capable of electing a competent chair, I can't say that he's necessarily wrong. May elections, especially at the local level, are beauty contests...they're not decided by an "educated" electorate (there may be some who are educated on the candidate, but they're ususally the exception rather than the rule). I have a friend who is very well-known in the county but has no qualifications to chair the Board. But, what if she got a wild hair and decided to run for the fun of it? It's entirely possible that she could win based on name recognition alone. And then, if she stunk up the job, what's the recourse? Nothing. We're stuck with her until she's up for re-election. Besides, (and I'm assuming you're a tea partier...if I'm wrong, my apologies), let's look at the private sector of which you're so fond. I work for a Fortune 500 company. As a longtime employee, was I give a vote in who would be the Chairman of my company's Board? No. He was elected by the Board of Directors as the most competent person to lead them.
R.L. Federalist March 01, 2012 at 01:44 PM
As far as "one man, one vote" to elect the school board, I don't necessarily have a problem with that (and neither, based on my reading, does Dr. Elgart). The problem is with electing the Chair. As far as your "dung heap" talking point, that, itself, is dung. Yes, we're amongst the best in what is, overall, a pretty sucky state. Yes, the state needs serious reform. So, what's your answer to solving a state-wide problem? Restructure one of the few districts that's actually working. GREAT idea! If we're using the SAT as a metric, CCSD is significantly higher than the national average and would, in fact, rank in the top half of the US. Graduation rates? with an 87% graduation rate, CCSD again ranks significantly higher than the national average (in fact, looking at graduation rates by state, it would be in the top 5). What other metrics do you want to look at? And exactly how is changing up the election method and adding charter schools going to improve things? Here's a hint...it won't. You gave it a valiant effort, RJ, but you're just regurgitating the same tired talking points of a splinter group with a grudge.
RJ March 01, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Federallist, I copied the quote directly from the letter provided by AdvancED not something paraphrased by Mr. Chapman. I will happily provide it but am frankly surprised the patch did not ask to see both the request from Chapman and the response and only took his word for it. If I can copy and paste it here I will do so shortly. Couple of thoughts on your other comments. Mr. Chapman has shown a disregard for voters and parents and has allowed the administration to break the law, coddle criminals and generally be aloof from the commoners especially those who have an honest disagreement. Yet he is chair. I am not sure if you met the previous chair or if you have ever had occasion to meet with and discuss issues with any of the other past chairs or the members for that matter. The fact is we the people entrust those we elect to do the job. If as Dr. Elgart suggests we are not capable of such a burden of electing a chair then how on earth are we capable of electing those that elect the chair? It just doesn't make sense. And for that matter how on earth can voters be trusted to vote on something so important as the financing of the education system throughout a ed-splost? How does Dr. Elgart know the threshold of the voters intelligence and how does he know where to draw the line? Either we trust the voters which is scary but how it seems to work best or we don't but we should arbitrarily draw a line of where smart enough is
RJ March 01, 2012 at 01:55 PM
As for your fortune 500 comments you are comparing apples and oranges. As an employee you do not have a vote. But as an investor you do have a vote and you vote for the board of directors and many of the governance issues that manage their behavior. Similarly I as a voter no longer elect the superintendent I elect a board who I entrust with resonisblity to hire the best and brightest. To hold them accountable and to demand from them results. This current block of 4 has shown no such will. It is larger than the Charter School it goes to the culture that this board and that group in particular has created. No person with 4 DUIs should hold a position of such authority and be sent to the schools to tell teachers and parents what to do. This board has allowed a climate of intimidation as a tool agains voters and citizens to exist and as an example remember the $300,000++ open records request response. Look at the big picture ask some real questions and you will see the issue is created than charter, choice, technology or funding. This issue and the question ought to be why is the focus so much on $$ and the central office and not on the class room. With out much effort I can show you close $1 Million that can shift tomorrow and the only difference we would see is that more $ went to the class for its its intended purpose. And apologies accepted. Not a tea partier at all just a thinker
RJ March 01, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Federalist I was enjoying the banter but I don't regurgitate anyone's talking points nor am I part of a splinter group. I believe you got your info for CCSD and not to be demeaning but the are not known for their honesty and candor. Take a deeper look at what the real comparisons are and you will see those numbers just don't hold up. How is it we have more schools not making AYP year over year and you defend the status quo? No one said charter schools are the silver bullet solution but what is the system afraid of? It is a tool to help students, it is open to the public, the population is chosen by lottery but the schools get to teach dynamically. Why is that bad? Why does that threaten the "system"? You seem to be thoughtful on this issue so I just ask instead of jumping in line ask questions? Start to look at the systemic issues don't read the PR and the system's cherry picked fact sheet. The numbers don't add up
R.L. Federalist March 01, 2012 at 05:55 PM
RKJ - I sincerely appreciate your responses. From everythign I've read in various papers and heard "on the street", you're the first person to providea coherent explanation of your position. This could easily become a novel but let's see if I can keep this to a short story: If you need a more apples-to-apples comparison, I recall voting for Chip Rogers to be a Senator but I didn't vote for him to be Senate Majority Leader. Is it because it would be too much of a burden on this commoner? If the Senate can schoose the person they believe to be most qualified as their leader, why can't the School Board? Regarding CCSD's decision to keep someone on staff after his very public arrest, you will get no argument from me. I'm not saying that he deserves to be dragged out and whipped but it IS pretty vile that he was put into another very visible position of authority. Of course, stranger things have happened: we have a Secretary of the Treasury who somehow forgot to pay his taxes for a few years. Let's assume everything you say is true and that the School Board and Administration is corrupt, dishonest and irresponsible. I'm by no means excusing it, but how is that different from ANY position of political power? I am not discounting the points you've made. Does CCSD have a culture of intimidation, dishonesty, etc? Maybe. Is CCSD givent to poor choices, both ethically and fiscally? Maybe. You've, apparently, been more active in learning these things than me.
R.L. Federalist March 01, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Let's look at this from a different angle: Does the CCGOP (including the various Tea Party groups and the delegation) have a culture of intimidation and dishonesty? Absolutely. Are they given to poor choices, both ethically and fiscally? Yup. As a lifelong Republican, I began to question the CCGOP going back to when they whored themselves out to Ben Elliiot a few years ago. I mostly turned a blind eye to it (and other things along the way) but, after the "either vote how we want you to vote or renounce your affiliation" thing, I'm ready to renounce my own affiliation. And that was BEFORE the delegation bent to the whim of these nutbags and pushed through yesterday's legislation without even taking a minute to stop and thing, "Hey, maybe we should do a little more due diligence on this before we ram it through." There are two sides to every story and, usually, the truth is in the middie. You indicate that "this is larger than the Carter School" but can you honestly say that ANY of this would have happened had the board agreed to the Charter School last summer? To give you an idea of where my head is, I am the father of two who moved to Cherokee after the first was born. There were a number of variables that contributed to my decision but, in looking at the various districts in Metro Atlanta, CCSD played a part in the decision I made.
R.L. Federalist March 01, 2012 at 06:09 PM
If there is ANY potential for this legislation to hurt them, there is no way I can possibly support it and I'm a little upset that my representatives did this half-cocked. I'm not saying that it has to remain status quo forever but, if there's to be reform, let's slow down a little, be deliberate and DO IT RIGHT. Regarding the issue of charter schools, I've got several concerns with them but did you happen to notice that they just announced this morning that they're facing a $1.3 million shortfall? THAT was a timely announcement. Where will that money be coming from. Speaking of timely announcements, it appears that HB 978 is about to be tweeked. It's possible that all of our back-and-forth this morning may be for naught. Cheers, RJ.


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