DeKalb school board disavows Morley’s superintendent search comments to AJC

Credit: Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz /

The DeKalb County Board of Education voted on Wednesday to disavow statements board member Joyce Morley made to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the board’s superintendent finalist.

The board held a public hearing to determine whether Morley violated its code of ethics after she told the AJC about conversations she said the board had during closed-door meetings. In an interview with the AJC, Morley said superintendent finalist Devon Horton was not ranked among the top tier of applicants by the district’s search firm, and that the board was split between Horton and interim Superintendent Vasanne Tinsley.

Morley could have only gotten that information during executive sessions — private meetings where the board discusses personnel and legal issues — confirmed board chair Diijon DaCosta at the hearing. Most of the superintendent search process happened in executive sessions, including reviewing applications and interviewing candidates.

The board’s ethics policy states that board members should “maintain the confidentiality of all discussions and other matters” that take place during executive sessions.

The board hired Horton in a 6-1 vote in April, with Morley the lone no vote. Morley has said Horton was unqualified to lead a district as large as DeKalb. and wanted the board to stick with Tinsley.

Morley was not present at the hearing. She declined to attend because the board would not pay for her attorney fees, a district representative said at the hearing. Efforts to contact Morley for comment were not immediate successful Wednesday.

The board voted 6-0 in favor of disavowing her comments. DaCosta clarified after the meeting that the vote means the board does not agree with her comments.

“I support policy, and that’s what we’re going to lean on,” said board member Vickie Turner. “It’s not personal and it never has been, but it’s protecting the policy. Why have them if we’re not going to adhere to them?”

If a board member is found in a public hearing to have violated its ethics policy, the board could issue a censure or reprimand, disavow the improper acts or statements, ask for a public apology by the board member or report the board member to the district’s accrediting agency, the policy states.

Morley told the AJC last month the possible ethics violation was an effort to control and silence her.

“They have been after me for the last eight years, the people on this board,” she said. “It’s just unbelievable.”