The Twiggs County school board has been chastised for usurping the power of the superintendent and was told by a review team that board members need a class on how to govern.
The notice by the review team, which issues Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accreditation, prompted the resignation Tuesday of school board chairman David Sanders. Seven months remain in his term.
“I held three, six-hour retreats over this dilemma,” Sanders said Wednesday. “I have tried my best for the board to stay within its limits, but I am smeared with the same brush.”
“I will not continue to be embarrassed by this board’s inability or unwillingness to follow the basic rules of board service,” he also wrote in his resignation letter. His resignation is effective immediately.
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School district policy states that if a board member resigns with more than six months left in the term, the school system must call a special election to fill the vacancy, unless there is a general election within that time period.
Meanwhile, the Twiggs school system is headed into a new school term without a superintendent because the school board remains divided on who to hire.
The Twiggs County school system received SACS accreditation April 28 after showing the review team it had met seven standards.
Those standards included a vision, good governance and leadership, teaching and learning, documented results, resources and support, a relationship with stakeholders and continued improvement of the system.
While Twiggs schools received accreditation, the system failed two standards and must correct them to stay in good standing. The system failed as a result of the school board’s inability to govern and for its dicey relationship with stakeholders, according to the SACS report.
A copy of the report shows the school board is required to hire someone to teach its members about their responsibilities.
The review team is also requiring the school board to recognize the superintendent as the system’s top leader.
A copy of the report states school board minutes confirmed the Twiggs school board made decisions related to the daily operations of the schools. Those decisions should have been a function of the superintendent.
Sanders said the review team wrote the board a letter, which he received Monday. Of the 130 Twiggs County stakeholders interviewed, the majority had complaints about the board, which also led to his decision to step aside, he said. Sanders said he left his resignation letter at the school district’s central office at 2 p.m. Tuesday. When Sanders didn’t show up for a board meeting that night, other board members found the letter, board member Ethel Stanley said.
“He just left us a note and didn’t tell us nothing,” said Stanley, who is now the board’s acting chairwoman.
Meanwhile, the school board has a little more than a month to find a superintendent.
The contract of the school system’s current interim superintendent, Carol Brown, expires June 30.
In early April, the school board was considering three superintendent finalists.
One is no longer being considered by the board, Stanley said, and another was hired by a different school system while the board tried to come to a consensus.
Superintendent finalist Ramon Johnson, who’s now principal at Bruce Elementary School in Bibb County, also is in the running.
Earlier this month, a motion to hire him failed in a 2-3 vote. Board members Yolanda Height and Teresa Blackshear voted to hire him.
Stanley, one of three who opposed, said Johnson doesn’t have any experience as a superintendent.
“Everybody had a different opinion,” Stanley said. “I think we need the best we can find.”
Stanley said she personally wants to rehire former Twiggs County Superintendent Franklin Perry.
In February 2009, the board voted to terminate Perry’s contract with about 10 months remaining.
The board had to pay a severance package for his salary and benefits for the remainder of his contract. Perry earned about $125,000 a year.