Bynum has also asked the Georgia Court of Appeals to hear an appeal of Cobb Superior Court Judge Tain Kell's Sept. 4 decision upholding the school board's Oct. 23, 2008, decision to fire Bynum for willful neglect of duty.
Moreover, Bynum has filed a libel suit against Tana Page and her organization, the Georgia Association of Educators, for trying, he says, to destroy his reputation.
"Dr. Bynum is ready to sell the farm to protect his name," said his attorney, Warren Fortson of Atlanta.
Bynum filed an Oct. 8 complaint with Cobb Superior Court requesting an injunction and declaratory judgment against the Cobb school board for violating Georgia's Open Meetings Act by voting in executive session to fire Bynum.
The complaint requests that the school board's decision to fire him be declared void and illegal and that he be reinstated as principal and compensated for lost pay.
Evidence for the school board's secret vote in executive session comes from the board's own executive session minutes of Oct. 23, 2008, which state that a motion was made by John Abraham and seconded by John Crooks to alter the decision of Bynum's tribunal. The tribunal had recommended Bynum be suspended for 20 days, but not terminated.
The minutes - which were obtained by the Journal through an Open Records Request - record discussion occurring about Abraham's motion on Bynum, followed by Abraham and Crooks making a motion to "call the question." The board then voted 2-5, killing Abraham's motion. The minutes go on to state that after more deliberation, the board was in agreement to terminate Bynum, although portions of those minutes are redacted.
In a July 10 interview with the Journal published the following day, school board attorney Glenn Brock apologized for "mistakes" he said were made related to the board voting behind closed doors. The Open Meetings Act does not allow for such votes. In the same interview Brock admitted that the Bynum executive session vote was a violation, stating, "If the minutes accurately reflect what happened there and if that was not a discussion, if that was a vote, then that would be an error."
Fortson writes in his complaint that, "The report by the Journal was Bynum's first notice that the actions of the board that took place in executive session of October 23, 2008, which resulted in Bynum being terminated by the board were secret and illegal and violated the Georgia Open Meetings Act."
Open Meetings Act violations may be brought to the court within 90 days of the violation. The remedy is to declare the vote void and require the government body to revote. Fortson said he is aware of the 90-day rule, but says there is a question of when the 90-day clock begins ticking - from the time of the violation or from the time the violation becomes known.
After all, a citizen can't object to a violation of the Open Meetings Act until after he or she learns about the violation, Fortson said.
In addition to the complaint filed with Cobb Superior Court, Bynum has asked the Georgia Court of Appeals to overturn Kell's decision to uphold the school board's decision to fire Bynum.
Bynum served as principal of Floyd Middle School from 2004 to 2008. He was appointed as principal of North Cobb High while being investigated by Cobb School District's Diversity and Equal Opportunity Manager Sheila Cozine for make allegedly making inappropriate sexual comments. Cozine's investigation didn't find sufficient evidence that Bynum had sexually harassed the math teacher, but she did advise that Bynum be sent a "letter of direction" to alert him to the seriousness of the allegations.
Bynum encountered additional issues at North Cobb and was sent a "last chance letter" on July 17. 2008. Yet a school social worker reported that Bynum told her on August 5, 2008, to "just wear a dress and stilettos" as a way to overcome her fear of public speaking, a statement Bynum acknowledged making, and a statement for which he was fired.
Bynum appealed the school board's decision to terminate him to the Georgia Board of Education, which on March 12 reversed the local board's decision, holding that the Cobb board acted arbitrarily and capriciously in firing Bynum. The Cobb board appealed the state board's decision to Cobb Superior Court on March 26, in a vote of 5-2, with David Morgan and Alison Bartlett opposing. Kell, a former Cobb school board attorney, upheld the board's decision to fire Bynum.
Fortson said the higher court doesn't have to hear the appeal and will likely take several months before it decides whether to do so.
And then there is the libel complaint against Page and GAE, a professional educators organization with over 3,500 members in Cobb. The complaint dates to before the school board fired Bynum. During Bynum's tribunal hearing last fall, Fortson called Page, a GAE director, to testify. While Page was on the stand, Fortson pulled out a half-dozen e-mails from her private e-mail server used to share information with GAE members.
Fortson told the Journal on Tuesday he obtained the e-mails, which are the basis for the libel suit, from another GAE member.
"They attack his character," Fortson said, describing one message that warns parents to protect their daughters from Bynum.
"They were pretty libelous," he said.
The libel lawsuit was filed in DeKalb Superior Court, GAE's headquarters.
Page could not be reached for comment and Kevin Pearson, GAE spokesman, said he had no comment to make.
Writing in the complaint, Fortson states: "To carelessly disseminate such false and damning information to the thousands of members of GAE in Cobb County where Bynum was a principal, targets him as not only a sexual predator, but a predator of young girls - 'watch your daughter!' - a pedophile."
Fortson is asking for $2 million for damages to Bynum's reputation, $1 million in punitive damages as well as attorney fees.
Brock said Tuesday evening he needed to discuss the latest filings with the school board, which meets this morning, before making any comments.