The situation apparently began after the Journal reported on July 3 that Hanson had been endorsed by the Cobb County Association of Educators, a teacher advocacy group.
A few days later, Banks distributed his e-newsletter, David’s Grapevine, in which he wrote: “This week one of my opponents made it known through the Marietta Daily Journal that the Cobb County Associations (sic) of Educators had given their endorsement based on my opponents ‘activity’ in education. To determine the validity of this claim, I personally contacted the schools where their children had either attended or were presently attending and in no instance could I validate or substantiate any participation in school activities or organizations by either of my opponents.”
Hanson said she was “very concerned and most disturbed” by the newsletter.
“For him to go to my children’s schools for information for political gain is highly unethical and way beyond the realm of what a board member should be doing,” she said. “The parents in Cobb County Schools deserve better than to feel like their information, privacy is being encroached upon, regardless if it’s a board member or just someone off the street.”
Hanson then called Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa, Board Chair Scott Sweeney and board attorney Clem Doyle. In an email to Doyle, she wrote that Banks “has used his position as an elected official to conduct an investigation on my children” and claiming his actions were in violation of board and SACS policy and federal privacy laws.
Banks said he did not receive any records about Hanson’s children.
“(Hanson) made the statement that she’d been very active in the schools, so whenever I saw two principals that her children would have gone to school to … I asked if they’d ever heard of her or if they knew anything about her, and their response was that they hadn’t ever heard anything about her,” he said. “It was just kind of a casual question.”
Banks said the “brief” conversation with the school principals took place about two months ago.
“Her children have nothing to do with it,” he said. “I would have never done that. She shouldn’t have listened to some of her advisers. What she’s trying to allude to was just garbage.”
Banks said he learned which schools Hanson’s children attended from newspaper reports.
“I didn’t even know she had children in school when she announced that she was going to run,” he said, adding that he didn’t see how she might see the newsletter statement as threatening.
Hinojosa told the Journal on Wednesday that he had spoken with Banks and was convinced no student privacy rules were broken. Hinojosa said he understood Hanson’s concerns but didn’t believe Banks intended any harm.
Neither Sweeney nor Doyle returned phone calls or emails about the incident.
For her part, Hanson said she hopes that Banks will learn that he can’t use his power as a school board member to do thinks such as contacting school officials.
“I have a 17-year-old daughter who is terrified that he will come to her school and start asking questions,” she said. “That’s not something you want to put on a 17-year-old daughter.”
She also wants to move on and focus on the issues in the northeast Cobb post.
Hanson, Banks and Stephanie Henry are vying to represent the area, which includes Lassiter and Pope high schools, on the school board in the July 31 GOP primary. No Democrats have entered the race, so the primary winner will likely be the one taking office in January.
Henry declined to comment on the newsletter.