Attorney: Chairman Didn't Violate School Board Policy
Before Davis Nelson ran for his seat, an update to a second policy held that only persons serving on the governing boards of private schools can't run for the county board of education.
Although one school board policy seems to state otherwise, officials with the Bartow County School System say Davis Nelson did not violate the board’s policy when he ran for his seat while employed by a private school.
Board Policy ABCB states that, “No person employed by or serving on the governing body of a private educational institution shall be eligible to serve as a member of the County Board of Education.”
However, Boyd Pettit, the school system’s attorney, said state law was updated in 2010 and Board Policy BHA dealing with conflicts of interest was updated with a provision stating, “No Board member shall serve on the governing body of a private elementary or secondary educational institution,” to reflect the state’s change.
That update occurred before Nelson qualified to run for office, Pettit said.
“When Davis qualified to run, he was clearly authorized from his employment perspective to serve,” Pettit said.
Which policy is better? Should private school employees be allowed to hold public school board seats? Are private and public education competing interests? Tell us in the comments.
“That was cleared before I ever ran for office and, according to the 2010 policy and state law, I am legal like everyone else to serve on the Bartow County Board of Education,” Nelson said.
State law sets the minimum requirements for board of education members, and Pettit said that local board policies cannot be stricter than state policy.
“And, what the current law says instead of being employed by it says serving on the governing body of,” Pettit said.
Cartersville Patch was alerted to the possible policy violation in an email with a link to Policy ABCB. This isn’t the first time Nelson has been questioned about having a conflict of interest since elected in 2010.
In September, board member Wanda Cagle Gray expressed concern at a school board meeting that Davis had signed off on an Erosion and Sediment Control Plan Review for the site of the new Emerson Elementary School. Davis signed the form as the Bartow County supervisor of the Coosa River Soil and Water Conservation District.