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The Rule of Law and the School Board

Bartow County's board of education erred in appointing Anna Sullivan to fill a Post 5 vacancy, and she should step down.

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 to the , superintendent and legal counsel that to the law in its appointment of a new Post 5 representative to replace , 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 ? 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 . 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.

BP News May 03, 2012 at 01:30 AM
Here is a link that has links to the two laws in question, plus links to the board agenda and minutes from the meeting where the appointment was made. I invite anyone to read the laws and decide what is right on this issue: http://www.bartowpolitics.com/school_board_information.html
BP News May 03, 2012 at 10:32 AM
Larry, what do you mean, intimidation? The board has been repeatedly asked by voters to do the right thing. Last time I checked, citizens have a fundamental right to "petition for redress of grievances." Citizens should not have to go to court when the issues are so obvious. Going to court should be a very last resort and should only be used after all other means have been exhausted. We waited over a week after this was brought to their attention for them to do the right thing before making it public. It was then very obvious that the board intended to sweep the whole thing under the rug. If you really believed in the rule of law and our system of government, you'd be right there with us asking the board to do the right thing. Did you read the laws? And this action isn't "innocuous." To allow our elected officials (no matter what party or what level of government) to do whatever they want and try to justify it later is a very dangerous thing indeed. All the people protesting this are asking for is for the seat to remain vacant until it is properly and legally filled. That's it. If they would have come out with a statement 6 weeks ago that they thought they were doing the right thing by appointing a member, but now they see that they didn't have the authority and would wait until the special election to fill it, we would have commended them for having the character to correct a mistake.
Matt Shultz May 03, 2012 at 12:10 PM
There is a clear history of the local GOP using the School Board to further its own objectives. It's an easy target with taxing authority and the party leadership gets to boast about how much more Conservative they are. I have been elected, volunteering and working for the Georgia/Bartow GOP since 1994 and evidently I am not Republican enough either. We are reaching the point that we need a viable alternative to our local GOP...To bad the local Democratic party can't get its act together.
Rob Adkerson May 03, 2012 at 02:15 PM
It's not about who's Republican enough, Matt. It's about who, especially who within the current government school system is intellectually honest enough to admit it's failure and join with others to think outside the box and try to change the whole paradigm of education in the U.S. and possibly the world. It will have to start at some local level somewhere on the planet. Why not Bartow?
Concered July 17, 2012 at 03:09 AM
Thank you! You are right on this one!

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