After the DeKalb County School District opened an investigation into claims of voting irregularities during Peachtree Charter Middle School’s charter renewal vote, the Charter Committee of the Parent Teacher Charter Council agreed to nullify the vote.
In a letter today to parents and guardians of PCMS students, the charter committee and the school’s principal stated it will toss out the Jan. 8 vote results.
The letter from the charter committee states:
A message from the PTCC Charter Committee:
Thank you to all the parents/guardians of students who voted on the charter petition on Friday, January 8, 2016. More than 350 individuals came to the school on that rainy Friday to cast their ballot.
The process by which the ballots were collected has been challenged. In the spirit of transparency and community cohesiveness, the Charter Committee of the Parent Teacher Council has nullified the vote of Jan. 8th. The vote has been nullified so that the committee can ensure the will of our community can be expressed unquestionably in a subsequent vote.
Please let your voice be heard and cast your ballot again on the Charter Petition on Friday, February 5, 2016. Please encourage all parents to participate. The vote will be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the main lobby of the school.
Brian S. Heptinstall,
Charter Committee Chair
Quinn Hudson, spokesman for the DeKalb County School District, said an investigation into the vote will still take place even after the vote nullification.
“The fact the vote has been rescheduled is important … but this is something we are still going to investigate and look into the allegations,” Hudson said. He added there is no threat to the school’s charter.
The original story:
A secret ballot vote to renew Peachtree Charter Middle School’s charter is now being investigated by the DeKalb County School District after a parent alleged possible cheating by the charter foundation and the school’s principal.
Timothy O’Connor, a parent of a child attending the school located in Dunwoody, filed the complaint. In an interview with the Dunwoody Reporter, O’Connor said when he showed up to vote Jan. 8 the box he witnessed those who were supposed to be securing the ballots removing them from the box they were being placed in.
“They could have been adding ballots,” he said. “There is no way to verify. I think the vote is basically invalid.”
He said he sent emails to school officials to complain about the voting process that led to the official investigation.
Scott Heptinstall, principal of PCMS, told the Dunwoody Reporter last week that the school’s lobby where the vote was being taken is filmed by surveillance cameras and ensures no cheating was taking place.
O’Connor, however, disputes that claim.
“As far as I know the only video that exists is security footage from a few foyer cameras. It doesn’t show the full media cart [where the box containing ballots] content as they’re ceiling-mounted.
“The whole thing makes we feel sick and in some ways I wish I didn’t know. I feel like a guy who happened upon some arsonists burning down a building who’s then confronted by the arsonists for calling the fire department,” he added.
O’Connor also said he and his wife support charter renewal “but under the auspices of a legitimate ballot process that respects PCMS parents and guardians. The adults running PCMS should be held to the same standards as the 6th graders. Just buy a box with a lock and don’t screw around with the ballot process.”