Brookhaven Innovation Academy is a recently approved public charter school slated to open in the 2016-17 school year and serve students in Brookhaven and surrounding communities. BIA will begin with 420 students in grades K-6 and, under its charter, will eventually expand to 540 K-8 students.

BIA’s board is now in a fast-paced search for a school building location, and recently hired Brookhaven City Councilman Bates Mattison as its interim executive director, which led to a city ethics review of his dual jobs.

Reporter Newspapers asked BIA Board Chair Jennifer Self Langley, who also runs the Buckhead-based JL Events & Association Management, to answer a few qustions about BIA’s current status.

Q: What are the steps in BIA’s process for getting the school open by August 2016?

A: BIA has a great amount of work to perform prior to school opening in fall 2016. Coordinating this essential work needed in an effective and focused manner is one of the key reasons we recently elected to add four highly experienced board members with specialized talents we felt were needed to assist us in opening the school, as well as our decision to hire a full-time executive director. We have also established a committee to review board development and board strategy for the short and long term of BIA. Additionally, we are working diligently to research and secure highly qualified vendors to fulfill the needs of the school.

Q: Has BIA started seeking a head of school?

A: The board is considering several proposals and options to assist in recruitment of the head of school. Our aim is to have our candidate for the position identified by end of the first quarter of 2016.

Q: What is the enrollment method and can students get on a registration list now?

A: We have an intent to enroll form on the “admissions” tab of our website,, and have over 200 students who are registered through the form to date.

Q: BIA previously expressed interest in an office building on Skyland Drive in Brookhaven, but now has a proposal to build a school next to it. Is BIA still interested in the existing building or has something changed?

A: The board members of BIA are looking for the best location available to create an outstanding school with a focus on utilizing technology to teach our children the job skills required for success in the 21st century economy. Furthermore, a school that will inspire teachers to utilize their talents to their fullest extent, and also develop those talents further over time to create a learning environment to meet and hopefully exceed the standards outlined in our charter provided by the State of Georgia Charter Schools Commission. To that end, we are looking at multiple locations in the Brookhaven region. No location is definitely in or out.

Q: Is there a possibility the school will not open on schedule next August? What happens if it doesn’t?

A: We will open in fall 2016 in either a permanent or temporary location.

Q: BIA Interim Executive Director Bates Mattison recently came under an ethics review regarding his other position as a Brookhaven city councilman. Does BIA think that ethics review was necessary and has it affected the process of starting the school?

A: The BIA board elected to hire Councilman Mattison because of his unique experience in opening the city of Brookhaven as city councilman, as well as his being an instrumental part of obtaining the charter for Brookhaven Innovation Academy. The report was not necessary. However, due diligence is important for any private or public organization or association. We are pleased that the report came back affirming there was no conflict or ethical issues in Mr. Mattison taking the role as the BIA executive director to further assist our efforts to open in fall 2016.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.