Cobb could change how it elects school board chair

The Cobb County School Board could change how it elects its board chair.

Credit: Cobb County School District

Credit: Cobb County School District

The Cobb County School Board could change how it elects its board chair.

Cobb County School Board members are considering a proposal that would change how they elect the board chair on the heels of criticism about a recent vote to name a chairman that broke along racial lines.

Under board member David Morgan’s proposal, everyone who wants to run for chairman would send the entire board an email in December outlining their intentions and why they are seeking the post.

Additionally, no board member could serve as chairman more than once within four years without the support of at least six board members.

Morgan’s proposal is in response to last month’s vote to elect Brad Wheeler as chairman and David Banks vice chairman.

The process, which happens in January of each year, took a contentious turn after the nomination of Charisse Davis, a black female board member, for chairman and vice-chairman was voted down by white board members, which raised questions of racial and gender bias.

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Morgan, who is one of three black school board members, said the proposal would provide more opportunity for other board members to serve as chairman instead of a “ping-pong between two members.” Morgan was referring to Wheeler and David Chastain, who have both served as either chair or vice-chair more than once within the past three years.

He also said it would remove the influence of political parties on the election of board chair.

“I’ve been told multiple times that, ‘if you’re a Republican, I’ll vote for you’,” said Morgan, who previously told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the Cobb school board has never had a minority board member serve as chair during his 12 years as an elected official. “That doesn’t sit well with me.”

Board member Dr. Jaha Howard said he likes that the proposal requires board members to communicate their intentions to their colleagues.

“I think always looking for ways to improve is the best way to go,” he said.

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However, Wheeler, the current board chair, pointed out there could be a situation where two people are running for chair and they both receive no more than four votes, or a previous board chair getting a majority but falling short of the required approval of six members.

“That’s a definite possibility, depending on the situation and the players,” he said.

Wheeler added the communication provision is a positive addition since “it removes perceived or unperceived viewpoints.”

Board members will consider the proposal at its March 19 meeting.

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