Allegation of racism rises from school board hiring decision

The Henry County school board’s offer to hire an African American educator, followed by its withdrawal of the offer, has led to charges of racism by four south metro Atlanta politicians.

Sen. Emanuel Jones, D-Decatur; penned a letter co-signed by Rep. Sandra Scott, D-Rex; Rep. Pam Stephenson, D-Decatur; and Rep. Demetrius Douglas, D-Stockbridge, asking Gov. Nathan Deal to intervene in the situation.

They say the confusing series of events surrounding the proposed hiring of Timothy Gadson, a former Atlanta school official, and the failed contract negotiations show evidence that Gadson was not hired because he is African American.

Attempts to reach the four and Henry County school officials were unsuccessful.

Jones’s letter said he reviewed some emails related to the negotiations and talked to residents to come to the conclusion the real reason for the withdrawal was racism.

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“The school board is dysfunctional and polarized racially,” Jones wrote.

It has three white and two African American members and a white chairwoman.

After the offer was withdrawn, a school spokesman said Gadson’s demands were excessive. 

Gadson requested a salary of $275,000 plus 10 percent annuity each year, for a total of $302,500, according to documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution through an Open Records Request. That falls within the range of other metro Atlanta superintendent salaries.

The previous superintendent made $213,000 in 2016.

But with additional expenses, Gadson’s total requests were close to $550,000 more than the original offer, the documents show. 

The board asked him to reconsider. But no deal was reached.

However, during the process, Gadson had been introduced in four community meetings as the county’s choice.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will follow up with details as we receive them.

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