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2nd SACS Complaint for Bartow School Board, Superintendent

Two Bartow residents are asking the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to investigate Bartow County school board members and Superintendent John Harper for alleged policy and standards violations.

Updated Dec. 10

AdvancED Vice President of Communications Jennifer Oliver confirmed her organization received the second complaint.

"The complaint has been forwarded to our Accreditation Team for review," she said. "They will assess it as to whether there is a violation of Accreditation Standards or policies."

Original Report

Discontent with the Bartow County school board continues, as two local residents have filed a second Southern Association of Colleges and Schools complaint this year.

"We were told by the complaint and we have previously responded in length to the concerns outlined in the complaint," Superintendent John Harper told Cartersville Patch when asked if he or the board had a response.

The first complaint of 2012 was filed in June by outgoing District 4 rep Wanda Cagle Gray. Fred Kittle beat out Gray in the general election last month and, following her allegedly unlawful appointment, District 5 rep Anna Sullivan won her seat in the July primary election.

Signed by local resident Paul Nally and Bartow Tea Party Director Gail Engelhardt, the complaint dated Nov. 30 asks the accrediting body to investigate the school board and the superintendent to determine if either violated AdvancED policies and standards, and if so, impose sanctions.

"We believe that the majority of this Board’s problems stem from a lack of psychological preparedness on the part of these public officials to work in a cooperative, harmonious and respectful environment, both among themselves and, of special note, toward other stakeholders," says the complaint. "Further, as other evidence shall establish, too many of them tend to micromanage the personnel of their little fiefdom and revel in their perceived power plays rather than focusing their attention on higher priority administrative tasks.

"They seem to have forgotten that the people elected public servants, not feudal lords. Sadly, this seems to be allowed by the Superintendent even though none seem able to exhibit any degree of skill in properly managing the most valuable asset of the system, its employees, which is not a function of their office," it continues. "Their ability to comprehensively read the English language is also in serious question."

Nally and Engelhardt, who held that Larry Parker's unexpired term should have been filled with a special election, tried to take the allegedly illegal appointment to court, but the primary election made it moot due to delays in the proceedings.

Now Nally and Engelhardt say since Sullivan's February appointment, the superintendent and the board have refused to update school system policies and bring them into compliance with state and federal law, according to the complaint.

It also cites bartowforabetterboe.com—a website that published alleged communications between board members Angie Cornett, who serves as District 3 rep and vice chairman, and District 1 rep John Howard—and asks AdvancED to determine if Harper was influenced by the two on a personnel decision.

Cornett later addressed the phone and text communications at a board meeting, making public confidential details of that personnel decision. That alleged violation of board policy prompted Nally to call for an ethics probe of Cornett, which is also part of the complaint, a .pdf of which is attached to this article, along with the exhibits mentioned. 

"This board is in constant conversation about rectifying the concerns of ethics conflict to ensure future issues do not occur," Harper said in an Oct. 31 letter to Nally. "Training is being established early next year to review our Code of Ethics to clarify the duties and responsibilities of each board member."

Nally says Harper should have investigated Cornett and reported his findings to the board, which could have sanctioned her, but Harper in letters says he doesn't have the authority. He communicated Nally's complaint to the board, Harper added.

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Related Content

  • Ethics Complaint Filed Against School Board Member
  • Parent to School Board: 'Embarrassed' by Member's Actions
  • Sound Off: Questions Linger for School Board
  • SACS to School Board: 'Work in a Spirit of Harmony and Cooperation'
  • Tea Party Director: Board Made 2 Illegal Appointments
  • SACS Complaint Dominates School Board Discussion
  • School Board Member Ordered to Court
  • Bartow Schools' Gray Files SACS Complaint
  • Watch: School Board Fireworks

For more on Bartow Schools, see our dedicated section: Bartow County Schools: Budget, Board and More.

Alison Guyton December 05, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Sam Olens, Ga Attorney General, is also involved now, chosen to exercise his discretionary authority about Open Record and Open Meeting Act violations. The board, or specifically, Boyd Pettit has 7 days from receipt of his notice to respond. I pray the truth will prevail and the lies and deceit will come to an end AND be punished. The Board attending school board and ethic training in January DOES NOT discipline for the actions of this lying, deceitful, criminal Board! Criminal complaints will follow to the appropriate authorities for the blackmail, fraud, forgery, unreported sexual harassment, etc etc etc Pathetic, despicable board members need to be removed and Harper fired for his lack of action to any of these actions, nor less all of them...regardless what is being held over his head.
CLUBFV December 05, 2012 at 08:46 PM
The appropriate venue for adjudicating ORA violations and Open Meetings issue is the Superior Ct of Bartow Co. Not only will they rule (which is appealable if you disagree), but will fine the violators and assess attorney's fees for your trouble. One must "step" up and be known for that to happen though

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