The last speaker during the public comment period of the Buford City Schools Board of Education meeting Monday asked those present to join hands and bow their heads in prayer, and it appeared the meeting had been adjourned.
But it hadn’t.
As the crowd from the heated meeting milled about and out, board members quietly retired to make an important decision, naming a retired Buford educator as an interim superintendent to replace the man who had just resigned.
Several hundred people had showed up to speak their mind about remarks allegedly made by former-Superintendent Geye Hamby in which he repeatedly used a racial slur in talking about African Americans. Mary Ingram, a paraprofessional who said she was fired for speaking out about the marginalization of Black History Month, had filed a lawsuit that revealed the recorded remarks.
As the sweat-soaked attendees left Monday’s sweltering standing-room-only meeting, nobody asked about the remaining items on the agenda.
While standing around speaking with Board chairman Phillip Beard and other board members, an AJC reporter was told he had to leave. The board members then went to a back room.
When they emerged, an interim superintendent had been named. However, nobody was left to hear the announcement that the former assistant superintendent, Joy Davis, had come out of retirement to become the new interim.
“Mr. Beard followed the proper procedures,” she said Wednesday. “It’s not his fault that nobody was there to hear it.”
Indeed, by the time the board emerged, there were only Gwinnett County police officers and a few school district personnel present. The media and the concerned residents had been long gone.
The agenda that had been posted on the Central Office door made no mention of going into executive session. There was, however, an item labeled “Personnel Recommendations.”
Earlier in the meeting Beard alluded to “other business” that had to be taken care of. But he never brought the meeting back to order after the prayer.
Gregory Jay, legal counsel for the board, said he heard Beard try to get people settled so they could finish the meeting.
“He called for a motion to go into executive session and I’m not sure who moved and seconded, but it was all by the book,” he said.
Jay added that after the board discussed a few personnel matters, they voted to appoint Davis as interim superintendent.
“When they came back out to formally vote and adjourn the meeting there were only a few people still around.”
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