Cobb school board loosens visitation policy for board members
by Lindsay Field
January 25, 2013 12:00 AM | 3923 views | 11 11 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — More than half of the Cobb County School Board’s meeting Thursday was spent revisiting a policy regarding board members’ visits to schools.

Member David Banks, who was the subject of a proposed censure last summer by colleague Kathleen Angelucci, made the motion to dismiss a policy restricting visits to schools altogether during the board’s consideration of governance and operations.

David Morgan seconded Banks amendment to the policy, saying he didn’t think board members should be “held hostage” if they are interested in going into the schools, but it failed 4-3, with Scott Sweeney, Vice Chair Brad Wheeler, Tim Stultz and Angelucci opposing.

The final motion, which included an amendment to remove “at least 24 hours” from the wording on allotted notification time for possible visits, was approved 5-2, with Angelucci and Banks opposing.

Angelucci’s opposition was made after asking the full board multiple times during the 45-minute discussion, “What do we do as a board when board members abuse (school visits)?”

No one responded to her question.

She also asked Cobb Superintendent Michael Hinojosa if, in the last 18 months since the policy was implemented in coordination with a review from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, he received any reports of board members going to schools without notice. He simply replied, “Yes.”

“This was put together and voted on by the entire board for a reason,” Angelucci said. “These have been abused, and we’ve had board members going into classrooms during instructional time with no previous contact, and it is not right that teachers feel like they have to be held hostage, so to speak, by a board member because they decide to just show up.

“We’re supposed to be thinking about the kids in the classroom and instructional time and at the end of the day. That’s what this is about. It’s not about a board member wanting to parade into a school. It’s about the learning that takes place.”

During the discussion, Sweeney also referenced recent recommendations from SACS to the DeKalb County School Board not to enter classrooms or schools without either an invitation or proper notification.

“If we were to show up unannounced, we’re taking people away from their duties, their responsibilities … because they are essentially going to treat us a little bit different maybe because of the position that we hold, and I think it’s wrong for any of us to step into these schools unannounced,” Sweeney said.

In response, Banks said he believes he must have a “different relationship with my principals in Post 5 schools than Mr. Sweeney does. In fact, if I don’t show up on a regular basis, they ask me what’s wrong.”

He went onto say that he will drop in and say “Hi,” but if there is something he needs to discuss with an administrator, he will make an appointment.

“I don’t think this board needs to infringe on anybody’s constitutional right to go to a public school,” Banks continued. “I don’t think anybody has ever abused going to the schools, at least nobody has ever told me that, and I’ve asked.”

In other business at the meeting, the board:

• Approved a $5.49 million contract with Swofford Construction Inc. of Austell to do mechanical and electrical upgrades at Blackwell, Ford and Garrison Mill elementary schools. The Request for Proposals will be funded by SPLOST III and is 28 percent, or $1.2 million, over budget.

• Approved a $3.6 million contract with Amacher Brothers Construction of Atlanta to renovate Tapp Middle School in Powder Springs. The project will be funded by SPLOST III and is 2 percent, or $40,000, over budget.

• Approved a $2.6 million contract with Possibility Construction Inc. of Johns Creek to renovate Birney Elementary School in Marietta. The project will be paid for with SPLOST III funds and is 2 percent, or $82,000, under budget.

• Accepted a little over $1 million in Georgia Department of Education Capital Outlay Project Closeout funding for completed construction projects at Sprayberry, South Cobb, North Cobb and Pope high schools.
Comments
(11)
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Jane W.
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January 26, 2013
Why the childish and unhelpful scribblings aimed at Councilman David Banks?

Is it really the voters you're targeting for continuing to have confidence in his guidance and judgment?

Grow up!
@grow up, Jane
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February 03, 2013
First, Banks is not a councilman, secondly, Banks IS a menace in the schools. Writers here are so TIRED of this man's bumbling around, interfering, dishonest way of doing business in the name of Cobb County schools, venting here is all they can do because that idiot got re-elected.

must be nice
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January 25, 2013
Funny thing....been in the business world for a long time and never once has my boss or a member of the board of directors needed o alert me they were dropping by...sounds like a lot of folks worried they won't be able to get their crap together unless they have 24 hours notice.
octoganarian1
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January 27, 2013
This has nothing to do with folks worried about "getting there crap together". It has to do with Mr. Banks, the board member who this issue is directed at, who continues to show up at schools unannounced, bothering administrators, trying to bully his way into naming of theatres, attending meetings he is not invited to etc. This is exactly why Dekalbs BOE was written up by SACS. Mr. Banks continues to violate protocol,and quite frankly administrators and teachers are tired of him poking his head around when it is not needed. Have you ever had a conversation with this man? LOL
anonymous
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January 28, 2013
Exactly. Why are you worried? Afraid for someone to see the real school?
anonymous
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January 25, 2013
Mr. Banks,

Please accept this email as official request for you to point out, with specificity, the exact location and verbiage of one's "right" to visit a public school in the Constitution, in the next edition of your famous Grapevine.

In point of fact, I accompanied my son to his locker at a Cobb Public Middle School just a few weeks ago, and one of the assistant principals told me I could not be in the halls in the morning. I take this statement of yours to mean that I was effectively denied my Constitutional Right to be there.

Alert the AFLCIO! Next thing you know, we'll have citizens removed from public comments because they have a different opinion than the board.

Oh wait. That already happened. Nevermind.

PS Banks... could you please refrain from sleeping during board meetings? It is distracting to those of us who find you truly boring.
sammisell
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January 25, 2013
Mr. Sweeney does have a different relationship with his principals Mr. Banks... they happen to RESPECT him, not feel like he is infringing on their jobs. It is amazing that this man has no clue how administrators, teachers and the general public feel about him. He can say all he wants about him being re-elected, but truth is, most people are clueless when it comes to voting for school board members.
anonymous
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January 25, 2013
Really Mr. Banks and Mr. Morgan ?????

I would love to drop in and visit with principals and teachers. However, I also respect that they have jobs to do and would never consider "dropping in."

A school's front office does not resemble Starbuck's for a reason.

Have some decency, dignity, respect and polite southern manners...

Board members need to respect the workplace and have no expectation that people need to cater to you because of your position. Teachers and principals have far more important things to do than deal with you.

Follow security procedures... Banks feels he can roam school halls without checking in at the front desk because he has a BADGE ??????
cobbmomofgrls
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January 25, 2013
I amazed that Mr. Banks continues to abuse this policy. As someone very involved in my daughters elementary, middle and high schools, I have heard first hand from the teachers and administrators that he is a "thorn in their sides". To continue in this manner to attend meetings unannounced, and drop in to try to influence outcomes of things is way outside of ethics and the responsibility of a board member. Stick to your duties Mr. Banks... or SACS will come a calling.
anonymous
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January 25, 2013
As an employee, I could not believe my ears when Mr. Banks also announced he didn't believe he needed to "sign in" as a visitor in the front office because he has a badge. Whenever I go into another school, even with my badge on, I sign in with the front office. In light of the recent events in Colorado, how could you possibly be opposed to signing in with the office?

And with all respect, given the potential 80 million dollar cut coming, is this policy the ONLY thing you could think of that might merit an hour long discussion?
Not so Funny Stuff!
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January 25, 2013
Banks and Morgan were on the board during the Oct. 27, 2011 meeting when the board unanimously adopted the protocols.

Guess they were for it before they were against it.

Gotta love the consistency and makes one wonder how they could and why they would defend arriving at any school without a scheduled purpose.

It's not as if principals and teachers have anything better to do than to cater to intrusive board members.

The DeKalb Board of Education is about to get bounced by the Gov. in part due to similar shenanigans.
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