Cherokee County School Board member Kelly Marlow was once again in the hot seat on Thursday as residents decried opinions she expressed on the Parent Teacher Association.
Four residents spoke out during the board's meeting, and clarified the roles local PTA organizations play in Cherokee County public schools.
The residents questioned comments Marlow made on Facebook and through email in which she denounced the PTA's politics.
The comments propelled Canton resident Kelly Poole to send the entire school board an email, noting she was "offended" by Marlow's assumptions about the organization.
"Without the help of our Cherokee County PTAs, many of our schools would not have many of the wonderful extras in the form of supplies and supplemental material that they need to educate our children," she wrote.
Marlow responded, and told Poole her words were directed at a few "rotten apples," and not the entire organization.
"I support the hard working parents who, as I said, break their backs and their banks to help the schools," she said. "It is my belief that many parents do not really know what the PTA does with the money nor are they happy that fundraising and politics are becoming the only talking points."
Marlow went on to label Poole as a PTA leader whose "politics have become part of the problem and not part of the solution."
During the meeting, Poole outlined the ways local PTA organizations keep schools up and running. She noted money raised by the PTA helps provide programs and purchase materials used by the students in the school.
Holly Springs resident Debbie Proctor added she found Marlow's comments "troubling and insulting."
"Please stop attacking those who are truly involved in their children's schools," she said.
Canton resident Lisa-Marie Haygood, president-elect of Georgia PTA, noted the local 38 units that make up the Cherokee County Council of PTAs led the way on several statewide efforts, such as securing state funding for school nurses and urging the Board of Regents to change research university requirements that would have resulted in high school students losing credit hours.
"You can rest assure that the Cherokee County
Council of PTA is very busy advocating for the children of this county," she added.
Ball Ground resident and district teacher John Carter said he's "shocked and enraged" at Marlow's comments, which he characterized as "more wild accusations against good people who are working for our kids."
At the end of Thursday's meeting, Marlow took the time to apologize to residents who may have been offended by her words.
The board member noted she was "surprised" at the comments made by the residents, and added she would never "attack the volunteer work that you have done on behalf of these children."
She said she does not agree with the PTA's stance on certain issues and said, in turn, that many of the residents don't agree with the politics of her fellow board members.
Marlow told the audience her door is always open to residents who want to sit down and discuss how the community can make the PTA a better organization.
"I do not agree with the politics of the PTA," she said. "I said it before and I'll say it again. But, that doesn't mean that your work is not important and that your work is not valued. And I've said that it's a shame that a few political, quote on quote 'rotten apples,' are spoiling the hard work that you do. I don't think it's fair and I don't think it's right."
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