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Officials discuss APS, Buckhead County proposal
by Caroline Young
October 24, 2012 10:09 AM | 2790 views | 0 0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In the aftermath of the recent and sudden administrative changes in Atlanta Public Schools, combined with other issues in the past, Buckhead residents are ready for a change.

“I can’t speak for everybody, but what I hear is people are not happy … he [Superintendent Erroll Davis] lost trust across the board as best I can tell,” said Jim King, president of Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods. “It’s been coming. It’s like the straw that broke the camel’s back. We have a superintendent who led the crazy redistricting process which was not very transparent and open no matter what they say. Then he throws off leadership at North Atlanta High School. … I suspect racism was involved.”

King, who proposed the idea of making Buckhead a county in the council’s monthly meeting Oct. 11, said he came up with the idea four years ago, a few years after the proposal of Milton County came about.

“I came up with this [Buckhead County] to protect Buckhead if that legislation went through,” King said. “One of the provisions is a new county can create a new school board. I believe that sends a very important message to the school system.”

King said he believes Buckhead County could happen if the Milton County legislation passes.

However, District 54 State Rep. Edward Lindsey, R-Atlanta, whose district includes part of Buckhead, said there are multiple obstacles involved in creating a Buckhead County.

“The existing state constitution limits the state to 159 counties, and if a county is split in two, the residents in both parts of the old county have the right to vote on the split,” he said.

So, Buckhead County would require an amendment to the constitution for more counties, which requires two thirds of the House and Senate to approve and a statewide vote in the next general election, according to Lindsey. Then, a bill to create a county would need to pass the General Assembly and all county residents would vote on splitting it.

“There was a question about whether proponents of a Buckhead County could also change the state constitutional requirement that all the citizens of the old county get to vote on the split and, instead, only allowing the voters in the proposed new county getting to vote,” Lindsey said. “However, such an attempt would likely face a stiff challenge under the federal Voting Rights Act, since they would be disenfranchising the county voters who do reside in the proposed new county.”

Of Davis’ renewal of contract, King said the system is apparently “trying to rush it through like a bum’s rush and it’s all being driven by the chair of the school board [Reuben McDaniel].”

A possible meeting date on when Davis’ contract would be discussed was not known Monday, but one media outlet reported the meeting was scheduled to take place Monday, after the Neighbor went to press.

 “This does not seem wise or transparent. … Why with such a critical issue of renewing or not renewing his contract, would you be rushing it through with specially called meetings?” King said. “We’re supposed to be working together and be partners with school system, not the school system dictating to parents and children. … Bottom line is, it’s sad. We have got to find a better way.”

District 4 school board member Nancy Meister, who represents Buckhead, and school system spokesman Stephen Alford did not return calls seeking comment on Davis’ contract as of Monday.

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