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

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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