Calendar, Open Meetings on Cobb School Board Agenda
Also expected to be approved tonight is a $2.2 million renovation modifications for Walton High School.
It took almost six months to receive a response, but parent Tricia Knor will get it in a roundabout way when Georgia Senior Assistant Attorney General Stefan Ritter discusses open meetings and open records with the Cobb County Board of Education at 5 p.m. today in the Central Office boardroom at 514 Glover St.
Knor filed a complaint June 27 with Attorney General Sam Olens regarding email messages sent using private accounts among board Chairwoman Alison Bartlett of Post 7, located south and west of Marietta; Vice Chairman Scott Sweeney of East Cobb’s Post 6; and members Kathleen Angelucci of North Cobb’s Post 4 and Tim Stultz of Smyrna’s Post 2.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Russell Willard forwarded Knor’s 67-page complaint to the school board’s attorney, Clem Doyle, July 6. Doyle responded July 14 that the emails didn’t violate Georgia’s Open Meetings Act but were open recordssubject to public inspection.
To prevent violations of the Open Meetings Act, Doyle said he would recommend that a quorum of board members avoid emailing one another.
In a letter similar to one given to the Atlanta Public Schools in July, Olens and the Cobb school board will sign a memorandum of understanding today to “assure future compliance with the Open Records and Open Meetings Acts.”
The memorandum states that if no evidence of new violations surfaces in the next 12 months, Olens’ office won’t prosecute the six allegations of violations.
The proposed memorandum is posted on the district’s website and is attached to this story, along with Atlanta’s letter, Knor’s complaint and Doyle’s response.
“Stefan Ritter graciously informed me … that he was going to be discussing with the board a consent agreement with regards to my open meetings complaint and also to the open records complaints that were filed” by Thom Gray and Mike Sansone, Knor told Patch.
“I think the training part is beneficial and necessary to ensure that future meetings will be open to the public,” she said of the memorandum’s provisions. “They’re on notice. Now you can prove the ‘willful’ and ‘knowing.’ They can’t prove they don’t know. So if they say they’re naive and didn’t know, now if they do break the law, they will have knowingly and willfully done so.”
At the board’s regular meeting at 7 tonight, its only meeting this month, Superintendent Michael Hinojosa will present his updated calendar committee proposal.
His new plan calls for a 21-member committee to make calendar recommendations, The Marietta Daily Journal reported: eight picked by PTAs; six campus employees, such as counselors, teachers and principals, selected by area superintendents; five Central Office representatives; and representatives of higher education and the community, each chosen by Hinojosa.
He proposed a 29-member committee of board member appointees, district personnel and community members in October.
Sweeney suggested instead an 18-member group without board member influence, and the board voted 6-1 to reject Hinojosa’s plan. David Banks of East and Northeast Cobb’s Post 5 cast the one dissenting vote.
The board also will vote tonight on a consent agenda consisting of three utility land easements and the purchase of 52 support vehicles for $1.7 million.
The board has five construction items it plans to discuss and vote on:
- Construction of the new Smyrna elementary school for $19.6 million, to be awarded to Carroll Daniel Construction of Gainesville.
- Addition and renovations to Daniell Middle for $4.1 million, to be awarded to Merit Construction of Doraville.
- Modifications to Walton High for $2.2 million, to be awarded to Amacher Brothers Construction of Atlanta.
- Addition and renovation to Nickajack Elementary for $1.2 million, going to Classic Plains Construction of Northeast Cobb.
- Construction of softball/baseball PE restrooms, concessions and storage buildings at Allatoona and Hillgrove high schools for $475,800 total, to be awarded to Classic Plains Construction.
The board also will discuss a proposal to stop accelerating SPLOST projects. The school system sped up the timeline for projects to take advantage of low construction prices during the recession, but those savings no longer are available.