ERICKSON: The fools in charge

January 25, 2013 

A member of our school board, and I am sure it is a recently elected member of our school board, is going to cost our public school system its accreditation. Our millage rate is going to go up. Taxes will increase as a result. It is all because of at least one member of our school board.

Reporting in the Telegraph Thursday, Oby Brown and Andrea Castillo began their article on Romain Dallemand thusly:

“The Bibb County school board is considering a buyout offer from Superintendent Romain Dallemand.

“Dallemand raised the prospect of a buyout with school board members behind closed doors during their Jan. 17 meeting, saying he believes it is time for him to leave the post, according to three sources, including two school system employees.”

One of the sources must be a member of the school board because the conversation happened in executive session. I have been in executive sessions in elected government. In my first one, I had my computer laptop open and Councilwoman Elaine Lucas leaned over to me and whispered, “We can’t talk publicly about this and your laptop open is making people nervous.” Despite the hostility she and I sometimes had on City Council, it became a source of good natured ribbing between the two of us.

It was common ground -- Elaine Lucas and Erick Erickson could agree that conversations held in executive session do not leak. Those conversations do not leak because the cost of doing business goes up when leaks occur.

Were it to leak that City Council had discussed buying a piece of property, the value of the property would suddenly go up. Were it to leak that the Board of Education would consider buying out a superintendent’s contract, the cost of buying out that contract would suddenly go up.

It will go up because a member of the school board had to be a source of the leak. It had to be a member of the school board because in executive session everybody else leaves the room.

The difference between a leak on City Council and the school board is that the city of Macon does not have to worry about accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Loss of accreditation jeopardizes the value of education in our community, risks frightening employers away from the area, and certainly will cause an increase in the cost of doing business in Bibb County.

When a school board member leaks from the executive session while members of the County Commission are grandstanding about federal grand juries, all the red flags are present for SACS to start looking. Having a new member of the Bibb County Board of Education -- and I have no doubt it is a new member -- leaking from the executive session is a dangerous thing and something SACS takes very, very seriously.

I disagree with Dallemand’s plans for Bibb County. I think he was a terrible fit as superintendent. But a majority of the duly elected school board disagreed. Instead of giving him the benefit of the doubt, a minority vocally fought every step of the way. It was their right, but they have now overplayed their hand.

Leaking from executive session, frivolously calling for a grand jury, and all the other pot stirring now puts our school system at risk, our tax dollars on the line, and provides exactly zero benefit to the children of the school system. A member of our Board of Education breached his or her fiduciary duty. That person should be the one resigning.

Erick Erickson is a CNN contributor and radio talk show host in Atlanta.

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