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Outlook: It’s not too late for School Board to do right thing

By   /   February 4, 2010  /   Comments

By the time this newspaper hits the mailboxes of most of our subscribers this week, we likely will know the answers to the $8,000 question: Is the Dougherty County Board of Education a collective role model for our children or is it an organization of white-collar shysters who are no better than the thugs and thieves that we try so hard to protect our children from?

And we’ll know, perhaps as early as today, how many School Board members sought forgiveness for their wicked ways of the past week and otherwise promised to do the right thing henceforth. We also should know today whether the Board of Education regrets the lying and cheating, the secrecy and arrogance and the underhanded spending of our money that might would still be happening if it weren’t for inquiring news reporters, thoughtful citizens, and the consciences of board members David Maschke and Emily Jean McAfee.

And we’ll know soon which board members will censure colleague Anita Brown-Williams and file a complaint with the Georgia Ethics Commission because Brown tried to hire her business associate without bothering to disclose their relationship.

Sure, four members of the School Board have stumbled, bumbled, lied, ran for cover like cowards, and have even broken the law as they reneged on the board’s plan and its promise to taxpayers that its next superintendent would be selected objectively; after a full vetting and multi-level process; and only after being introduced along with other finalists to the citizenry that will pay her or his salary.

Sure, four board members responded to citizens’ criticism defiantly if they bothered to respond to all. And sure, the board made fools out of us by having us believe it was legitimately spending $8,000 on consulting services and marketing to ensure that we get the best superintendent that can be found in the whole world.

But we are hopeful that the goodness that defines Albany’s citizenry will prevail at today’s special-called School Board meeting at noon today at the school system administration building at 200 Pine Ave. There certainly is hope; indeed, board member Michael Windom has sought and received forgiveness for being one of five members to underhandedly attempt to hire college administrator Joshua Murfree.

Sure, some damage has been done. But it can be repaired. Forgiveness is a powerful thing. Asking for it may be even more impressive.

And sure, what the board did pales in comparison to the city hall lawbreakers who we hire to serve and protect us, to obey the rules and the law, and to spend our money prudently. For more than four years, our municipal government has been consistently lying, cheating, breaking the law and otherwise deliberately committing transgressions much worse than a weeklong lapse in judgment. Perhaps some School Board members thought: If they can get away with it, why can’t we? But that’s certainly no way to be a role model, is it?

We feel it’s important to note that the School Board went sour so fast is because it shamefully tried to have its key discussions and otherwise conduct the public’s business behind closed doors.

Sure, the interviews themselves can legitimately be held in executive session so there is no cheerleading or jeering from the public. But why prevent the media from attending the interviews and why, by all means, prevent the public from attending the discussions about the candidates? To improve the candidate pool by keeping their names secret? Well, we know that’s hogwash, don’t we?

Dougherty County School Board, quit emulating the Albany City Commission.

You’re better than that.

And we forgive you — if you say you’re sorry and if you swear on a stack of schoolbooks that it’ll never happen again.

Kevin By Kevin Hogencamp

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