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Allegations of wrongdoing continue for Bartow County School Board members
by Monica Burge
September 18, 2012 03:02 PM | 2812 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Although the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools saw no cause for further action into allegations of violations by members of the Bartow County school board, the issue still seems far from over.

Residents addressed the board during a Sept. 10 work session regarding the complaints and Superintendent John Harper made comments calling the report to SACS “irresponsible.”

“Based on the nature of the allegations stated in the letters and their lack of substance, I believe that making the report to SACS was irresponsible,” Harper said.

Alison Guyton, who addressed the board during the public participation section, said she believes the complaint to SACS was warranted and is not satisfied with the decision of no further action.

“Someone owes the taxpayers a definitive explanation,” Guyton said.

Fred Werner, who has addressed the board at its past two work sessions, said he is still waiting for a response to his list of questions regarding issues he sees as major concerns.

“There [are] serious problems with this board,” Werner said.

Harper, who took time during the work session to comment, spoke candidly about his observations.

He said in the last few months he has been discouraged by the tone of school board meetings and has been “uncomfortable” with disagreements between board members during executive sessions, which he said have occurred since he began his tenure and have “damaged our school system.”

Harper said regardless of the internal issues, his desire is to help move the school system foward but one school board member has, in his opinion, violated the code of ethics regarding school board meetings.

Specifically, Harper said, he referenced 1) working with other board members “in a spirit of harmony” and cooperation in spite of differing opinions and 2) expressing opinions before votes are cast, but after the board vote abiding by and supporting all majority decisions.

“The board member that I believe who is not adhering to those two standards is Ms. [Wanda Cagle] Gray,” Harper said.

Cagle Gray said she had no idea she was considered to be in violation of the code of ethics and that she is only interested in the truth.

“I don’t know what to do except be a representative of the public,” Cagle Gray said.

“I believe these taxpayers’ issues, concerns are valid. What am I supposed to do about that? Ignore it? Go along with it? I didn’t make these things up. They are valid.”

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