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DeCotis puts kibosh on ethics brawl

It went from verbal brawl to closed lips, and it took little more than a whisper from the guy in charge. Brief comments Tuesday night by Fayette County School Superintendent John DeCotis appeared to effectively rein in charges and counter charges on alleged ethics issues by board members against board members in the past two weeks. But yet another splattering of those earlier comments were heard during the public comments portion of the meeting.

DeCotis said he had asked that the topic be put on the agenda in light of recent comments made that related to board ethics and possible ethics violations. Displayed on the screen were the current ethics policy, a sample code of ethics and items that an ethics policy should include.

DeCotis said he wanted to remind all five board members that the school system has an existing ethics policy and wanted to reiterate the provisions contained in it.

“I wanted to remind the board that a policy is in place and I hope they can adhere to it,” DeCotis said, adding, “especially since we have a superintendent’s search under way.”

With those comments the matter was settled, with those on the board apparently willing to let the matter rest.

But that was not all that would be said of the verbal brawl between board members Janet Smola, Terri Smith and Bob Todd at the previous board meeting. It was during the public comments portion of the meeting that the topic again appeared.

Fayette Teacher Joy Clark took her turn at the podium, giving her opinion that statements made by Todd at a recent press conference were political and that his behavior violated the ethics policy.

Also on the list to speak was Vanessa Birrell. Though she could not stay for the public comments section, Birrell did provide The Citizen with a copy of her comments. She referenced the "foolish spending" of Smith, Smola and Lee Wright in a number of 3-2 votes and she gave examples of "questionable" ethics of the part of Smola and Smith, adding her belief that they are handpicking board of education candidates.

Representing the Fayette Board of Realtors, representative Mike Faulkner said his board was present to express their concern over the recent bickering and political posturing in past weeks and in the hopes that board members would essentially speak with a common voice after a vote.

It is noteworthy that the Board of Realtors, at least in recent years, has not made the same request in any municipality or with county commissioners, even though the open disputes and verbal warfare that have occasionally been present at meetings and in the media in some of those governing bodies far eclipse anything heard from the mouths of school board members in recent weeks.

For his part, Faulkner after the meeting said that while uncommon, his statement to the school board was not an unprecedented move by the Realtors' board.



suggarfoot's picture

Interesting about Joy Clark, when I check the Georgia open government site, unless she just started this year, there is NO Joy Clark.

<strong>DELETED for violation of terms of use (naming a private person not connected with the story)</strong>

look for yourself.

Since Smola is an advocate for the special students (isn't that a conflict being on the school board?)

would this be one of her friends...?

and ps

parapro...last time I checked ..DOES NOT QUALIFY AS TEACHER...if it did would say teacher.

suggarfoot's picture

Do you mean...Fulton county (what ever)? What a tangled web we weave....

How many Clarks teach in Georgia? In the metro area? Could it be that she uses her middle name, but her first name is listed on payroll documents? Maybe she's married but uses her maiden name professionally. I know plenty of people who do that. I've heard of a lady whose first name is Linda, but everyone knows her as Gail. Do you know anybody like that?

suggarfoot's picture

I guess we could all give bits n pieces of our names when we introduce ourselves, but somehow it just doesn't have the ring of sincerity that should go with questioning someone's ethics.

suggarfoot's picture

that quick for Mikie to speak on their behalf?

I also wonder where he gets the idea that after a choke holt 'vote', that Dr Todd and Marion Key should parrott the other 3's ideas?

"Representing the Fayette Board of Realtors, representative Mike Faulkner said his board was present to express their concern over the recent bickering and political posturing in past weeks and in the hopes that board members would essentially speak with a common voice after a vote."

Myself, I am glad Dr Todd is so honest to say he thinks money hasn't been spent wisely. Who doesn't agree with that?

Isn't it against the law...for the BOE to be in the 'land bussiness'?

Those extra schools, one brand new one in particular, that has only 40 kids in my opion, that was pure SPECULATION...

SPECULATION may put a smily face on developers, and realestate agents, but I can assure you, it has brought nothing but higher taxes for us, and grief for the 'real' teachers!

My thoughts for Mikey are, how you gonna peddle these houses with outragous tax bills to pay empty schools? How are you going to peddle the idea of the wisdom of building too many costley schools?

Ms. Clark, did you listen to the proceedings before you went into a public meeting and presented your comments in such an unprofessional manner? Janet Smola brought up the subject and was reinforced by Terri Smith. Dr. Todd was harrassed, his words were twisted, and he was called a liar by another board member in public. Dr. Todd repeatedly tried to correct the other board members who refused to listen. If you missed it, here's the link: It's the May 4 called work session. The questionable ethics behavior starts at 1:18 and continues for about 30 minutes.

Just Asking

Did some research after listening to podcast. It doesn't appear that 3 members made poor decisions - but the total board. They have also made some wise decisions to protect the teachers and students. DeCotis is an outstanding administrator - but will the actions of this Board encourage another outstanding leader to come to Fayette County? This school system is only different from others in our country because it has produced an outstanding product. EVERY school system is in financial trouble. I will try to attend the June 1 meeting - will you?

suggarfoot's picture

It seems there are special groups who want power. Wright gone, Todd in, and Tolbert..oh my! what will they do?

If these are special interest groups, they will vote in blocks...people get out n vote!...if you don' will have more cow pasture schools.

suggarfoot's picture

Called BOE today, from the head of human resources...unless using a nickname..THERE IS NO JOY CLARK...TEACHER IN FAYETTE COUNTY.

So who is Joy Clark, acknoleged by Smith as such?

One thing she seems is, someone trying to root Todd out n help keep control for a certain group.

If she listened to the tape of the previous meeting, she would have heard SMola attacking Dr Todd.

Decotis? Where was your outrage then? you sound like a lap dog letting her go on n on.

The overiding in the meetings of Dr Todd and Marion Key is well known...look on

no doubt...they will demand they be taken off! but one is intitled 'if you don't agree with are stupid...talking about Smola's arrogance..where was the lap dog then?

there are many such vidoes listed there, take your pick, this kind of scene at the BOE is legendary...! Where was Decotis outrage then?

Where was this myterious Joy Clark then?

I agree with sugarfoot, it's noteworthy when a "Fayette Teacher" goes on record at a public BOE meeting to criticize her employer. The state of Georgia open records website lists 13 people named "Clark" or "Clarke" employed by the FCBOE, none of whom has a first name of "Joy" or a middle initial of "J".

The fact that this "Fayette Teacher" materialized seemingly out of nowhere to deliver a scathing rebuke to Dr. Todd seems very suspicious...and a very fortuitous bit of timing for the Smola-Wright-Smith cabal, who have an undisguised loathing for Todd.

Someone mentioned that this "Fayette Teacher" would not be on the GA open records website if she was just hired this year, but that doesn't pass the "smell test": if you were eight months or less into a new job, would you blister your boss at a public meeting?

I believe this "Fayette Teacher" was a shill put in place by the Smola-Wright-Smith cabal specifically to embarrass Dr. Todd.

I believe they were counting on...correctly, as it turned out....the Citizen to not ask any questions about their puppet.

suggarfoot's picture

Never have I seen anyone break their own horse's leg before it got out of the gate!

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