Filing open records and BOE drama
by Mark Andrews
Sep 28, 2012 | 3213 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Amidst the ongoing disputes with the Bartow County Board of Education and taxpayers present during the public participation portion of meetings for the last several months, The Daily Tribune News wants to remind readers that they can acquire hard copies of liability insurance documentation regarding outside organizations using county school facilities.

The DTN has in its possession such policies, but will not be able to run a myriad of insurance policies in their entirety in the newspaper.

For example, the DTN has a certificate of insurance from AXIS Insurance Company, dated Dec. 11, 2011, for Northwest Georgia Juniors, the organization which overseas the Rome Volleyball Club. The DTN also has documentation from Church Mutual Insurance Co. for Excel Christian Academy, which has provided ongoing coverage since Dec. 13, 2007, and was renewed in 2010.

The DTN has use of facility agreements between South Central Middle School and Lake Point Church and the Bartow Baptist Association; SCMS and the North Georgia Crush Softball team; Cass High School and the Northwest Georgia Juniors; and Adairsville Middle School and the Northwest Georgia Homeless Veterans Foundation for the annual Southern Vets Fest.

According to www.law.ga.gov, “Under the Georgia Open Records Act, all public records are available for inspection and copying unless they are specifically exempted from disclosure under the law. If a government agency or custodian of public records withholds a public document from production under an Open Records Request, they must cite to the provision of Georgia law that exempts the record from being produced.

“A request to inspect or copy records may be made either orally or in writing. For purposes of documenting and clarifying the scope and timing of the request, it is a better practice to make the request in writing.”

During Monday’s regular business session, an approximate 30-minute public participation portion drew reactions from the crowd. The entire meeting is available for view now at www.bartow.k12.ga.us.

Board member Angie Cornett addressed a school employee, by name, in response to information posted in a full-page paid advertisement in the DTN from Taxpayers for an Ethical Bartow County, who are responsible for the website www.bartowforabetterboe.com. On the website is a phone conversation between Cornett and a county teacher as well as photocopied text messages from a county cellphone.

The DTN is in no way affiliated with Taxpayers for an Ethical Bartow County nor www.bartowforabetterboe.com, despite the paid advertisement being incorrectly referred to as an “article” several times during the meeting.

Cornett was interrupted when addressing the board and those in attendance, being told by board attorney Boyd Pettit she could not address a personnel matter, specifically, calling a school employee by name, during the business session. The action, as well as text messages shown on the website, caused members in attendance, including the mother of a special needs child, to be vocal toward Cornett during the meeting.

The DTN will not publish the text messages because they contain coarse and offensive language.

“This individual was talking about my family in a very negative way. I then proceeded to contact this individual along with my husband,” Cornett said. “The text messages you’ve read ... were from the principal of a school we’ve demoted who was not performing her duties appropriately and [Superintendent John Harper], along with this entire board, demoted her.

“She, in an attempt to defend herself, turned to [board member Wanda Cagle Gray] and turned over text messages in reference to my family, particularly my minor children who I remind you are students in this school system, which the last time I checked, personal information in regard to students is not to be distributed. There have been numerous personal attacks on my family since demoting the principal at [Kingston Elementary School] and the transfer of this non-productive teacher. Both of these people have befriended Wanda Cagle Gray in an attempt to attack my credibility, but in this process they continue to attack my family.

“Let it be known that this board position does not come before my family. I will defend and protect my family and I will not hold back in the process.”

The board will hold its next work session Monday, Oct. 15, at 6 p.m. in the central office boardroom.