Friday, August 15, 2008

We Don’t Need No Stinking Ethics

I must confess my utter astonishment upon reading that the Clarke County Board of Education voted down all five of the proposed ethics policy revisions stemming from Superintendent James Simms’ threatened resignation of two months ago.

Quite apart from the public and editorial calls for the Board to address these issues, its votes are all the more disturbing because such revisions to the Clarke County School District’s policies are integral to the recommendations made by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to repair the "rift" between the Board and the District’s administration
(and yes, the specter of the Clayton County School District accreditation debacle grows by the day).

The proposed revisions, which strike me as entirely uncontroversial (see section F under Old Business, pages 27-35 of the PDF), concern the specific areas of:

Board Ethics
Board Member Conflict of Interest
Administrative Personnel Positions
Professional Personnel Transfer
Administrative Personnel Transfer

My reading of the proposed revisions is that they would be relatively minor in nature, merely serving to bring local policies more in line with the Standards for Local Boards of Education as developed by the Georgia School Boards Association. By that, I mean drawing a distinction between policy adoption and general oversight, which should be the responsibilities of the Board, and day to day personnel and administrative decisions, which should be the responsibilities of the Superintendent.

Given the consistent academic underachievement of the Clarke County School District’s students, the scandalous amount of money required to purchase that underachievement, and the administrative chaos that continues to reign on Mitchell Bridge Road, I advise voters to carefully consider their choices this coming November.

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