The broadcast version of this story.
The DeKalb school board Monday addressed three of the steps needed to regain full accreditation. But, it’s unclear whether the board has resolved governance problems that led to accredited probation.
The board approved a governance training contract and amended its bylaws to disband unnecessary committees.
However, when it came to signing an oath to uphold a new code of ethics, there was confusion and some disagreement. When board member Sarah Copelin-Wood suggested the code be read aloud, a tense exchange ensued between her and board chairman Eugene Walker.
Wood: “Although we’re going to sign it, we need to know what it says and to understand what it says.”
Walker: “Well, I’ve read it. You’ve not read it, Mrs. Wood?”
Wood: “That’s not what I asked, Eugene. That’s not what I said.”
Walker: “Ok. Go ahead and do what you want to do, ma’am.”
Wood: “Ok. What I said was the public don’t know what it says.”
Wood went on to read the entire code of ethics. But then argued with attorney Laurance Warco over whether board members should have to sign an oath to uphold the code.
Warco: “My legal opinion is that you should sign this.”
Wood: “But, it doesn’t say in our policy that we have to sign it. So, I don’t think I should be obligated to sign something that this policy does not dictate that it needs for us to sign.”
In the end, all of the board members, including Wood, signed the oath. Afterwards interim superintendent Michael Thurmond said he didn’t think the disagreements indicated poor governance.
“Governance doesn’t necessarily mean unanimity,”Thurmond said, “We will continue to disagree on different issues. Our board members are elected from different districts with different constituencies. And they will bring their own unique perspective to the board of education.”
On Thursday, the DeKalb County school board will again face the state board of education. It’s the DeKalb board’s final chance to convince state officials that they’re serious about getting off of probation. If they can’t, the state board can recommend to Governor Deal that he suspend the entire board.