By John Schaffner
Two Buckhead women who filed ethics complaints against five members of the Atlanta Board of Education have been informed that the board’s Ethics Committee will hold a meeting Nov. 18 to determine whether to initiate an investigation on alleged ethics violations.
The Nov. 18 meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. at the Center for Learning and Leadership Auditorium, 130 Trinity Ave., in downtown Atlanta, according to the notice sent to Kim Kahwach and Allison Adair by Howard Grant, executive administrator for the school board.
One violation of the school board’s charter claimed against the five board members by the two residents deals with holding discussions “or otherwise communicated with vendors, or groups who are soliciting business from the school system” regarding that solicitation or matters related to the solicitation.
The complaint says the five violated the charter by “the employment of legal representation that also represents charter schools.”
In a Nov. 4 letter to Grant, Kawach and Adair charged the ethics violations are “related to the lack of adherence to the APS board’s charter, its policies and its protocols commencing on July 12, 2010.”
The letter asked for a waiver of the ethics board’s 60-day requirement for conducting and concluding ethics investigations, “due to the urgent and damaging nature of these ethical violations.”
The request was for the investigation to be conducted and concluded by Nov. 19.
The action by Kawach and Adair represented a new round in the struggle between the majority and minority factions on the Atlanta Board of Education.
It joins a legal suit by the four-member board minority against the five-member majority, appeals from government officials and parents to board members, and a threat from AdvancED and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools that APS might lose its accreditation.
The ethics complaints – filed against board members Nancy Meister, Khaatim Sheerer El, Yolanda Johnson, Brenda Muhammad and Courtney English – were made against members of the board who took control in September, replacing former chairwoman LaChandra Butler Burks and vice chairwoman Cecily Harsch-Kinnane with new chair El and vice chair Johnson.
Kawach, who has children in APS schools in Buckhead, is an active member of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods, as chair of its public safety committee. Adair has been active in the community and PTA for years and her children attend Jackson and Sutton schools.
That legal counsel is Glenn Delk, also an active member of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods, who represented the five at a Fulton County Superior Court hearing on Oct. 29.
Judge John J. Goger on that day said he was not persuaded “at this time” that he should immediately act to reinstate the former board chairwoman and vice chairwoman. He set a Nov. 23 court hearing on a suit filed by the four members of the board minority.
The ethics complaints from Kawach and Adair followed threats by AdvancED President and CEO Mark Elgart who informed members of the school board on Nov. 1 that their capacity to govern is “in serious jeopardy” and that staff from one of the nation’s top accrediting agencies will be in the city school system Dec. 6 and Dec. 7 for a formal review.