Atlanta Board of Education Chairman Reuben McDaniel said the list of people lining up to run against him is the result of his alleged role in leadership changes at North Atlanta High.
Two candidates from Buckhead have announced their intent to run for the at-large seat.
In emails McDaniel sent to fellow school board member Nancy Meister last year, he listed his concerns about “institutional racism” at the school, meaning a culture that catered to white students. In October, Atlanta Public Schools officials removed the leadership team in dramatic fashion, and some in the Buckhead community put the blame squarely on McDaniel’s shoulders.
McDaniel said there’s “misinformation” about his involvement, but said the leadership changes were necessary.
“Everybody has a right to be upset,” McDaniel said of the controversy. “There’s some misinformation about my involvement in it. Second, we all have opinions about how that school is structured and how students were being, in my view, harmed at that school.”
Candidates running for the seat did not explicitly state the North Atlanta controversy as the reason they’re trying to oust McDaniel. One candidate is making serious cash investments in the race.
Local attorney Tom Tidwell recently disclosed that he has $40,000 on hand for his campaign against McDaniel.
Tidwell’s campaign released financial data showing Tidwell loaned his campaign $20,000 in order to compete against McDaniel for the BOE’s District 8 seat.
McDaniel had $19,184 on hand according to a report filed in July.
Tidwell said he needed the additional money to be competitive in a citywide race.
“That’s not chump change for me,” Tidwell said. “The reason I’m running is, education is important to me, and I’m very unsatisfied with the job Reuben McDaniel has done, and that’s pretty much universal in North Atlanta.”
Another candidate has announced that she will run against McDaniel and Tidwell. Cynthia Briscoe Brown, former co-president of North Atlanta Parents for Public Schools, jumped into the race this month.
Brown didn’t discuss North Atlanta, but criticized the way McDaniel handled the recent APS budget process.
Brown declined through a spokeswoman to comment on the money being spent in the race. Brown will not be required to file campaign disclosures until September, the spokeswoman said.
McDaniel said his fundraising totals would be comparable to Tidwell’s.
“I didn’t put any of my own money into it,” McDaniel said. “I’ll be within striking distance of that.”