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Georgia PTA election is over, and this is who won

The battle over the Georgia PTA is over, with opponents of the current board winning all the open seats after forcing new candidates onto the ballot.

A chaotic election process for control of the group began Friday morning. Procedural maneuvers to amend the ballot with new names continued well into the evening, with candidates giving speeches near midnight, about half a day after they should have.

It took so long because the PTA board that was just ousted had allowed only a hand-picked slate. Then, an insurrection on the floor of the annual convention led to an hours-long and ultimately successful fight to add candidates.

The new contenders swept the voting, which had been extended into Saturday because of the delays Friday.

The new leadership, announced just after 5 p.m.:

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  • Karen Hallacy, of Cobb County, won for president-elect, and will take over as president two years from now, when current president Tyler Barr’s term ends,
  • Debbie Rabjohn, of Cherokee County, for first vice president,
  • Shanda Ross, of Clayton County, for second vice president,
  • Lori Sweet, of Cobb County, for secretary, and
  • Lynn McIntyre, of Fulton County, for treasurer.

The outcome may take some pressure off the organization, which was placed on probation in March by the National PTA due to “brand” damage caused by the Georgia leadership. This week, the school superintendents in Gwinnett and Cobb counties raised the stakes, indicating a loss of confidence in the current state PTA board and urging their own school PTA units to withhold their state dues.

The National PTA also threatened last week to “take appropriate action” if issues, including the refusal to allow any but the hand-picked slate of candidates, went unaddressed.

“We now have hope for rebuilding our state association,” said Vickie Riccardo, a Fulton County PTA official.

The board will be lead by Barr, who is associated with the old board. He was president-elect until that board removed then-president Lisa-Marie Haygood early this year, triggering the uprising that led to this weekend’s events. Barr, who would have become president Saturday anyway, immediately succeeded Haygood last winter. (The president-elect becomes president after winning the election and serving on the board until the president’s term expires.)

Barr reportedly told the crowd Saturday that a divided house cannot stand while a united one can.

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