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Judge Rules for Plaintiffs in Sullivan, BOE Case

Superior Court Judge David Smith ruled there is enough evidence to proceed to a hearing.

Judge David Smith ruled today there is enough evidence to proceed to a hearing to determine if appointed member Anna Sullivan can retain her seat.

Smith also denied a motion dismissing the case based on the fact that plaintiffs Jerry Nalley and Bartow Tea Party Director Gail Engelhardt do not live in Sullivan’s district.

“Any citizen in the county of Bartow has the right to bring an action against a public official,” the judge said.

by the Board of Education in February after to run the .

That appointment was illegal, and the seat should have been filled either through a special election or waiting until a primary or general election, said Nalley and Engelhardt, who .

Sullivan and former board member Greg Bowen have to seek the District 5 seat in both the and Republican primary, both set for July 31.

Nalley said he expected a similar ruling.

“We felt it was absolutely necessary to enforce the rule of law,” he said. “As long as we have the rule of law, citizens don’t have to fear corruption of any kind.”

The Rydal resident said Sullivan now has time to review the law, realize she was appointed in error and resign.

“That pretty much makes our point moot,” he said. “But, I don’t think that’s going to happen, sadly.”

Sullivan’s attorney, Todd Hatcher of the Atlanta law firm Brock Clay, declined to comment on the case after Wednesday morning’s hearing.

“I can’t comment on pending litigation,” Hatcher said. “If I could, I would, but unfortunately, I can’t.”

Sullivan was not present at the hearing, to which Nalley objected.

“It is her place and no one else’s to speak to her authority to hold office,” he said.

Smith said that while he will determine if Sullivan can continue serving on the school board, he would not address the following concerns:

  • State law allowing board appointments be declared unconstitutional;
  • Bartow school board policy "upon which Sullivan has relied" be declared unconstitutional;
  • The court find the only lawful process to fill a board vacancy is a special election;
  • All monies paid to Sullivan be ordered returned; and
  • Sullivan be disqualified as a District 5 candidate in the July 31 primary "for illegally holding said office."

School board attorney Boyd Pettit, who has said in the past the board was within its rights to appoint Sullivan to the vacant seat, said after Wednesday’s hearing that he could not comment.

“There’s now a pending matter,” he said. “I’m not going to comment further.”

A date for the next hearing has not been set to allow Nalley time to file his petition. The case of quo warranto, which is a legal proceeding during which a person’s right to hold an office is challenged, is unusual, Smith said.

“This is something that lawyers and judges don’t come across very often,” Smith said. “It’s extremely important, and we’re going to take all the time we need.”

Dsnyder June 13, 2012 at 05:32 PM
I say just leave her alone and just quit complaining
String Bean June 13, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Dsnyder, she was ILLEGALLY appointed to hold an elected office. This is an important matter. Without the rule of law being upheld society descends into chaos. If Anna Sullivan is an honorable member of our community, then she should do the right thing and resign.
Larry June 13, 2012 at 06:41 PM
By the same way of thinking, the other members of the school board should resign for making an illegal appointment. And some of the members should resign for illegally using school facilities. And some members should resign for conflict of interest. And no one should be allowed to hold a seat on the school board unless their children attended school in Bartow County.
Katherine M June 13, 2012 at 08:50 PM
School boards should be composed of parents and taxpayers, not former educators. They are there to represent the community's interest and set policy, while the superintendent and administrators represent the education point of view. And String Bean, you're right - Anna Sullivan is showing her true colors by not stepping down.
Concerned citizen June 13, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Anna Sullivan is one of the finest people I know and has four children in the school district, volunteers her time on a regular basis to the schools, has the childrens best interest at heart and that is who should be on the school board. It is not about politics or People who have nothing better to do than go around causing trouble and persecuting innocent people. Shame on you and may God have mercy on your soul.
BP News June 13, 2012 at 11:33 PM
Concerned Citizen, No one has anything against Ms. Sullivan, who by all accounts is a very nice person. This is about the rule of law. If we overlook a legal issue just because she is nice, we are no longer a nation of laws. I have said this repeatedly: If Ms. Sullivan had stepped down as soon as the mistake was known, she likely would be running in both the special election and the primary completely unopposed. This is not a personal attack by anyone who has raised this issue. A lot of people have asked the board to fix this from the time it was discovered until now. It didn't matter who it was that was appointed to the position. If Ms. Sullivan would step down now and make a statement that she wants to follow the law, it would go a long way to restore faith that some of our leaders want to uphold the oath of office they take that they will follow the laws of the state.
Santa's Helper June 14, 2012 at 03:09 AM
I'd like to know how much of this finger-pointing, "calling out," and lawsuit against Sullivan has to do with the principal at Kingston being demoted. Seems to some people that this is an attempt to make the board members "pay" for that vote of demotion on May 14. I mention this because it appears on www.topix.com that the close friends of the principal are slandering specific board members. How convenient for the principal if this issue with Sullivan causes the vote to be void?? It's sad to me that EDUCATORS are this scheming and conniving.....
BP News June 14, 2012 at 10:30 AM
Liz, this has been going on since mid-March and none of the people who have asked the board to do the right thing since then have had anything to do with the Kingston situation. Citizens spoke out about it at the March, April and May board meetings. In fact, when my husband spoke about it at the May meeting, we were surprised to see so many people there, because we knew nothing at all about the Kingston issue until that meeting. You can see a timeline and read the two laws in question here: http://www.bartowpolitics.com/school_board_information.html As far as the votes being void, because they only need 3 members to make a quorum and 3 votes to pass any issue, and most votes are unanimous, I suspect almost nothing will be overturned by voiding Ms. Sullivan's votes. Only those items she made a motion or second on will be in question. They haven't approved the minutes from May 14 yet, and I can't get the whole video to load, so I have no idea whether the vote was unanimous or who made the motion/second, so the Kingston thing may not even be relevant in that case either.
Larry June 14, 2012 at 11:27 AM
While looking for things to do close to home for a "stay-cation", I ran across the website for the city of Dawsonville. Their mayor died earlier this year. So, pursuant to state law, they are having a special election to fill that post. Looking at the section of the law covering special elections, it is no wonder folks don't know what the heck is going on. It looks like it applies in all cases. But like everything else, it can be "interpreted" to say whatever you want it to say...
J.M. Prince June 15, 2012 at 10:05 PM
I've got little idea of what might be really going on here, or why. I hope that some decent fact finding might help, but that's a generous and hopeful outlook. I do know that Paul Nally would just love to be fortunate enough to have the money and resources of The Nalley Companies, but alas, he's just one of the Bartow Nally's. So someone might correct Ms. Schulman on that score. Thanks, JMP
Concered July 17, 2012 at 03:24 AM
Why not former educators to govern over education matters? Medical boards are governed by doctors. How is this different? Likewise, can not educators be parents and are they not also taxpayers? Just saying… Oh and "true colors"... Yes she is. She is a good woman that cares for kids and education.
Concered July 17, 2012 at 03:27 AM
True! You can disagree about the how, but the personal attacks are unwarranted.

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