Perdue removes school board members

For the second time in three years, Gov. Sonny Perdue is taking steps to remove leaders of a troubled school district.

Late Friday, the governor announced that he had signed an executive order calling for the removal of three of the five members of the Warren County Board of Education for ethics violations.

His actions hit closer to home in August 2008, when he removed four members of the Clayton County school board -- Michelle Strong, Lois Baines-Hunter, Yolonda Everett and Sandra Scott -- after an administrative hearing judge said they had violated their duties under state law. Five other Clayton board members left in the fallout from Clayton becoming the first school system in the nation to lose its accreditation in nearly 40 years.

Warren County, located near Augusta, also has been threatened with loss of its accreditation by the Southern Associations of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

Perdue's executive order cites complaints filed against Warren school board members Clara Roberts, Cecil Brown and Charles Culver for micromanaging the system, violating the Georgia Open Meetings Act, discriminating in hiring, violating SACS policies and refusing to sign their school board's ethics policy.

It also cites subsequent findings by an administrative law judge that, among other things, all three had "engaged in a variety of actions that threatened Warren County's SACS accreditation." The judge recommended last month that Perdue remove them.

Earlier this year, the General Assembly passed landmark legislation aimed at on the accreditation controversies in Warren and in Clayton, which is now on probation and working to regain full accreditation. Provisions of the bill give the state the ability to step in when a local school system’s accreditation is threatened and clarifies the roles and responsibilities of superintendents and board members.

"The new governance law works proactively, requiring ethics training and signing of conflicts of interest statements so hopefully these situations are prevented in the future," Bert Brantley, the governor's director of communications, said..