GOP race for school board: Anti-Todd email rumor traced to Smola

The Great HighGrove Redistricting Rumor turns out to be a case of one sitting Board of Education member — Janet Smola — politicking against the reelection of her fellow board member, Bob Todd.

Smola’s charge of a stealth redistricting plan — which Todd calls a “bold-faced lie” — took electronic wings via Peachtree City attorney and HighGrove resident Doug Warner.

In that email, Warner — the attorney for the Peachtree City Airport Authority and the senior law partner of state Rep. Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City) — wrote to his fellow HighGrove residents that Fayette County Board of Education incumbent Dr. Bob Todd was a proponent of sending HighGrove subdivision students to other schools.

That allegation actually came from Todd’s fellow school board member Janet Smola, a Todd antagonist who is often on the winning side of the 3-2 votes that occur on the board.

Warner’s email stated that Todd had “plans to move both HighGrove and Whitewater (subdivisions) to Whitewater High School and Middle School (rather than remaining at schools in the Starr’s Mill complex). All of HighGrove should be voting against Bob Todd in favor of Charlie Cave.”

Cave apparently is Smola’s choice to replace Todd.

Asked about the copy of the email he received, HighGrove resident Pat Hinchey said he spoke with several residents, then called Todd, who told him Warner’s assertion was untrue.

Hinchey said he then spoke with Warner, who told him he had received information from school board member Janet Smola that Todd had a preference to have the students move and that if Hinchey had any questions on the matter he could call Smola or outgoing school Superintendent John DeCotis.

Hinchey then spoke with Smola, who confirmed what Warner had said in the email. Then Hinchey called DeCotis, and was told that DeCotis was not aware of any plans by Todd to redistrict either HighGrove or Whitewater subdivisions.

Another portion of Warner’s email referenced Todd’s vote in 2007 in opposition to the elementary school redistricting, saying, “The 3-2 vote to approve the (redistricting) plan kept HighGrove students at Starr’s Mill.”

DeCotis told Hinchey that Todd’s voted for or against the 2007 redistricting had no bearing on HighGrove since the subdivision’s children under the redistricting plan would not have moved to another school.

Contacted Tuesday, Warner acknowledged Smola’s statement that Todd had a preference to have the HighGrove students move to Whitewater. Warner said board Chairman Terri Smith also said Todd had made previous statements to that effect.

Concerning the comments made by Smola, Warner said he had known Smola for a long time and knew her to be credible. He said Smola told him in “no uncertain terms” that Todd on numerous occasions had noted his preference that one or both subdivisions be redistricted.

Warner said that he was not trying to get into the school board race. He said the schools at the Starr’s Mill complex and those at the Goza Road complex (where Whitewater is located) are both excellent schools, adding that he simply did not want his children to have to change schools.

Meantime, Todd’s opponent Charlie Cave has not responded to multiple attempts by The Citizen to be interviewed. Cave also has skipped the only public event during which candidates were questioned by citizens.

The Fayette County Republican Primary will be held July 20. Early voting is ongoing.