Guest Column
John S. Sherman, president
Fulton County Taxpayers Foundation

Fairness and decency compel a response to John Rice’s article in the Sept. 10 edition of the Buckhead Reporter, an article titled “Don’t Cheat Blue Ribbon Panel of Praise for Efforts.”

The Secret Intrusion of Sam Williams and John Rice of the Metro Atlanta Chamber and the Atlanta Education Fund:

Two weeks before the formation of the Blue Ribbon Task Force, Williams, president of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, sent a memo to his board (which includes Rice) stating: “I want to provide you with an update on the Atlanta Public Schools CRCT testing and potential cheating issue which was discussed at length at our executive committee (which includes Rice).

As an outcome of that meeting, the Metro Atlanta Chamber and the Atlanta Education Fund (Rice is chairman) led several discussions with business leaders, Superintendant Beverly Hall and APS Board Chair LaChandra Butler Burks.

Following are the immediate next steps: On Monday, March 1, the APS Board will introduce a resolution that requests the AEF (Rice is chairman) to commission an independent investigation and create a Blue Ribbon Task Force to help guide the work of the investigation. The Blue Ribbon Task Force will be chaired by Gary Price and supported and staffed jointly by the AEF and the chamber. A firm will be selected on March 3 to perform the investigation. “We will let the facts from this investigation guide us in our support of Dr. Hall.”

Taxpayers Foundation comment: By a majority of five members of the Atlanta School Board, LaChandra Butler Burks was removed as chair of the APS Board, replaced by Khaatim Sherrer El. The majority of the APS School Board asked again and again, “Who is running APS, Sam Williams and John Rice, or the members of the Atlanta Board of Education?”

“There was never any attempt to guide the work of the investigating firm in an inappropriate way.”

Taxpayers Foundation comment: We were informed by teachers and principals interviewed that a representative of the superintendent was present at each interview. This was not only inappropriate but intimidating to witnesses.

The current majority of the Atlanta Board of Education resents the interference of Rice and Williams into the policy-making of the Atlanta Public Schools. Such policy-making is the provenance of the Atlanta Board of Education.