LexisNexis defines the Rule of Law as follows:
“The Rule of Law, in its most basic form, is the principle that no one is above the law. The rule follows logically from the idea that truth, and therefore law, is based upon fundamental principles which can be discovered, but which cannot be created through an act of will. The most important application of the rule of law is the principle that governmental authority is legitimately exercised only in accordance with written, publicly disclosed laws adopted and enforced in accordance with established procedural steps that are referred to as due process. The principle is intended to be a safeguard against arbitrary governance, whether by a totalitarian leader or by mob rule. Thus, the rule of law is hostile both to dictatorship and to anarchy.”
A few of us recently pointed out to the Bartow County school board, superintendent and legal counsel that the board was mistakenly contrary to the law in its appointment of a new Post 5 representative to replace resigning board member, Larry Parker.
Was the board wrong? Did it and school officials make a mistake or is there more to it? Should they make a statement or release more information, as constituents have requested of the board? Tell us in the comments.
The law clearly states the board must immediately call a special election to fill any vacancies. In the 2003-2004 session of the Georgia legislature, the law governing this procedure was amended to specifically lay out the procedure for filling an unexpected vacancy and it requires the seat must be filled by special election. The law can be found here.
Now, I would like to make very clear that my standing up for the Rule of Law in no way speaks to my opinion of Anna Sullivan, who was appointed to fill the Post 5 seat. By all accounts and public opinion, Mrs. Sullivan is a wonderful person and is more than capable of performing the duties of the position.
We simply have to consider the precedent that would be set and the intent of the law as written. The law defers in every case to the people of Post 5 and grants us the ability to choose our representative on the board.
As far as I know, Mrs. Sullivan probably would have ran unopposed in the required special election and would have been duly elected by the people.
Now some may argue what’s the point then? The point is that we have laws for a reason. In the future, God forbid, the board could be comprised of people who have less-than-honorable intentions. If we set a precedent of allowing them to sidestep the laws, we have set ourselves up for trouble and put our children’s education at risk.
My guess is that if the board had appointed someone the community widely opposed, we wouldn’t be having this debate. That is why we have laws and that is why we don’t govern by emotion and personality.
The most common-sense solution to this problem is for Mrs. Sullivan to step down until such time as she is legally elected by the people of Post 5.
I am convinced that she had no knowledge laws were not properly followed, and has every intention of representing Post 5 in a competent and honorable way—the beginning of which will be doing the right thing and demonstrating to the people of Post 5 how the Rule of Law works and why it is important.
That’s the beginning of good leadership.