Resolution condemning racism tabled during heated Cobb school board meeting

Screenshot of the Cobb County Board of Education virtual meetingScreenshot of the Cobb County Board of Education virtual meeting

Cobb County School Board members decided to table a resolution condemning racism during a tense meeting Thursday morning.

>> watch the video of the meeting by following this link

Board member Randy Scamihorn presented his version of a resolution condemning racism for the seven members to amend and vote on.

Before Scamihorn presented his resolution to the board, board member Charisse Davis asked Cobb Schools Superintendent Chris Ragsdale if he was willing to say “Black lives matter.”


Ragsdale did not say it and instead cited the Golden Rule of treating others how one would like to be treated.

Davis talked about parents and students who come to board meetings to address their experiences with racism in Cobb schools. She said citing the Golden Rule is not helping those people.

Ragsdale said that protocols are in place at Cobb schools if somebody breaks any of the rules.

“Just as we’re a country of law and order, this organization has rules of operation,” Ragsdale said. “When those rules are violated, regardless of who it is, we’re going to follow those.”

Later, Scamihorn read his resolution to his colleagues. Board member Dr. Jaha Howard asked Scamihorn what board members Scamihorn had consulted about drafting the resolution before today’s meeting.

“I’ve talked to everybody, including [Howard], on the phone except for Ms. Davis,” Scamihorn said. “Ms. Davis did not call me so I assumed she didn’t have any comments.”

Howard clarified to Scamihorn that he was asking about who Scamihorn had consulted while drafting the resolution, before Scamihorn emailed the resolution out to board members.

Scamihorn did not answer Howard’s question, and said that there was no draft, but a resolution. Howard moved on.

In a Courier article last week, Davis was quoted as saying that she and Howard drafted a call to action addressing systemic racism in Cobb schools.

Davis said that none of her board colleagues ever responded and that board members had received an email after she sent the call to action, stating that Scamihorn would be drafting a resolution condemning racism.

During the meeting, Davis told Scamihorn she responded to his resolution email with questions and comments but Scamihorn did not respond to her. She also said that Scamihorn’s resolution does not address racism in Cobb.

Davis said that policy to change systemic racism in Cobb is needed. She said Scamihorn’s resolution lacked a commitment to taking action to specifically end systemic racism in Cobb schools and was too vague.

“Something happened that made the entire world start protesting,” Davis said. “It was the death of a Black man at the hands of a police officer. So the tragic events that are even referenced in your resolution, what events are we talking about? We’re not even mentioning [George Floyd]’s name.”

Davis said Scamihorn should reconsider putting his resolution up for a vote.

Scamihorn responded by saying the portion of the resolution that says the county stands with all its citizens against racism addresses racism in Cobb.

“This resolution condemns racism whether it was 1,000 years ago or 1,000 years hence, rather than singling out a specific thing,” Scamihorn said. “Though you [Davis] weren’t old enough, I was old enough to watch in horror, in the 60s as a young man … things that were happening back then that guide us to where we are today. Do we have more to do? Much more, yes.”

Scamihorn said he went through the “policies that you [Davis] complain about” to create the resolution. He said he hoped the board could unite to vote for his resolution.

Howard directed his comments toward Scamihorn and told him none of the Black members were asked for their input or to discuss Scamihorn’s resolution.

Scamihorn interrupted Howard, saying that Howard was not telling the truth. Scamihorn said he sent the resolution through email to all board members to respond to.

“Literally we can walk through the timeline of it,” Howard said. “Before you submitted an email for the resolution, none of the Black board members had been consulted for input or their thoughts before you shared it with the board as a product.”

Scamihorn then pointed to Howard releasing a resolution of his own to the public Tuesday, June 23. Howard’s resolution names Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks and other Black people killed recently in racist violence.

Howard said he wrote his resolution to address systemic racism, because he felt Scamihorn’s resolution was insufficient. Howard said no one on the board acknowledged his message after he sent it twice.

Howard then asked Scamihorn if he would be willing to adopt any of Howard’s five statements.

Scamihorn said he would be willing to accept what the majority of the board decides.

Howard read off one of his resolution points about systemic racism to ask Scamihorn how he felt about it.

Scamihorn said the phrase “systemic racism” was a “nonstarter” for him. He said he does not believe systemic racism is an issue in Cobb schools and that to say there is would be to indict the employees and staff of Cobb County schools. He pointed to staff of diverse backgrounds who teach.

Howard asked if Scamihorn would approve any resolution that had the word “systemic” in it, to which Scamihorn said that the school district is doing something right because more people are moving to Cobb and attending their schools.

Scamihorn was also asked if he thinks there has ever been a history of systemic racism in Cobb schools. Scamihorn said he has not seen any evidence in recent history.

Board member David Morgan said the best thing would be for a resolution to pass 7-0.

Morgan said he also did not want to “indict” Cobb faculty on charges of racism. He also questioned Davis on what policies she would like to see changed.

Davis said that Black students disproportionately receive certain punishments in Cobb schools.

“What the data tells us is that in Cobb County we have a disproportionate number of Black and Brown students referred for discipline,” Davis said. “And we have a disproportionate number of white students in our academic programs, including [Advanced Placement].”

Davis said that there is evidence of systemic racism in Cobb, but that board members are choosing to ignore it. She said most people can understand racism is bad and she could not support a resolution that does not call for active improvement.

Scamihorn said there are issues of discipline but it is not because of race. It is a policy issue. He said all students have discipline issues from time to time. He added that Howard and Davis do not call him to speak on policy issues.

“You are just flat out lying,” Davis said. “We talked so much, especially when I first got on the board … you’re just making stuff up. You talk to me all the time because you’ve wanted a chair vote, and then that was it.”

Scamihorn said Davis was conflating the issues and that no one had spoken to him on the resolution.

Scamihorn continued, saying he did not like being called a liar. At this point, Scamihorn yielded to parliamentarian Clem Doyle, calling Davis’ remarks “outrageous and unprofessional.”

Morgan spoke again, this time proposing Scamihorn and Howard work together with each of their resolutions and come up with a new resolution.

When Howard was able to speak again, he asked that at least two or three of his resolution proposals be added to Scamihorn’s resolution.

Board member and chair Brad Wheeler said he would support adding only one of Howard’s resolutions to Scamihorn’s, to Howard’s visible frustration. Wheeler continually emphasized the need for a unanimous vote and said Scamihorn’s resolution alone was a “good start.”

Morgan again brought up his point of Scamihorn and Howard working together and said it would be powerful representation if the two did so.

Howard and Scamihorn agreed to work on a resolution to present for the next board meeting Thursday, July 16. Scamihorn then made a request to table the resolution to Doyle.

After that, Scamihorn also requested a formal and public apology “for statements that were directed personally at me.”

Doyle said he was not sure he could support Scamihorn’s request for public apology and instead encouraged board members to review different board policies on rules.

Lastly, Scamihorn asked Doyle if Morgan could be an intermediary, if necessary, to his and Howard’s attempt to come up with a resolution. Davis threw her hands up in frustration and Howard asked if Scamihorn really thought it was necessary to appoint an intermediary.

Howard then said he would be happy to have Morgan as an intermediary. He also said he did not want Morgan’s appointment to be mandatory so as not to conflict with all three of their schedules.

Arielle Robinson is an undergrad at Kennesaw State University. She is the president of the university’s Society of Professional Journalists and an editor at the KSU Sentinel. She enjoys music, reading poetry and non-fiction books and collecting books and records.


33 Comments on "Resolution condemning racism tabled during heated Cobb school board meeting"

  1. White Male Age 52 | June 25, 2020 at 11:30 pm | Reply

    Come on people of Cobb County! Can we please vote out the stodgy old guys who literally are out of touch with the 21st century, technology, and everything relevant and important to the three or four generations younger than them? These guys haven’t even had to pay taxes that support our children’s schools because of the backwards property tax policies other old white guys instituted. Pease VOTE!

    • The only reason they may not pay property taxes now is if they already spent most of their life paying them. Your comments include rhetoric rather than specifics. What technology are you referencing and how do you know how skilled they are with it? How do you know what’s relevant and important to the generations you referenced, did you poll them?

      • Islah s Barney | August 18, 2021 at 12:35 am | Reply

        be specific how??? pull your head out of your ass and look around at the entire global community and all the tech related to every single thing youre able to do today from the comforts of your chair. As in keyboarding requesting specifics as if you dont see the forest for its trees!

  2. 30-something female Sprayberry Grad | June 26, 2020 at 9:21 am | Reply

    Seriously. This Scamihorn needs to go. This is not 1960, and he absolutely MUST work with POC if he’s going to create resolutions for POC. But honestly, all that shows he’s too far gone and has no business representing the future. Cobb has serious systematic racism, and we absolutely must call it by name and address it. These kids have not only been watching all that’s going on in the world the last few weeks, but they’ve also joined in on the protests! They need real leadership that calls a spade a spade so we can all move forward on the right side of history.
    Great read that all in Cobb should see. Thank you for this summary. They should be ashamed.

    • Charlie david | June 27, 2020 at 1:36 pm | Reply

      Problem is you cannot point to any action that was based on race. But you can show clearly Groups like BLM chanting pigs in a blanket and kill the police. BLM is a racist group with its foundations in the name of Farrakahn and other racist black people. when you have black people saying death to the Jews death to whitey it is racism. Black racist that hate the white people is a terrible force not a bit different from the KKK. The government stopped the KKK and they Should stop the hate group BLM

  3. 30-something white female SHS grad | June 26, 2020 at 9:24 am | Reply

    Darn should’ve also mentioned the color of my skin in my name above so people like Scamihorn know the white ladies are not having his old-timer crap.

    • “Old-timer crap” sounds discriminatory, are you insinuating that his age makes his ideas irrelevant? Are you suggesting your “thirty-something” age and your “white” skin color lends validity to your words and prioritizes them over others? Also, the use of your proverbial expression, “call a spade a spade”, is considered to be offensive.

  4. This very conversation that the board had is actual evidence of systemic racism. White privilege through and through. Not admitting there is a problem because the problem doesn’t affect you.

    It’s saddening to think this is the type of board we are entrusting to make decisions about the schools many black boys and girls attend.

    Scamihorn needs to be replaced if he can’t adjust his views based on the recent happenings around the world over the death of George Floyd and many other POC. His views are appalling and so out of touch with reality. Is he living under a rock? Just plain disgusting.

    My heart goes out to the POC that serve on the board with him and those he works with on a daily basis.


    • First, the board members admitted that racism is a problem. It appears that “white privilege” and “white fragility” are now being used as racist terms to target those who don’t conform to a particular set of ideas or to villainize a particular demographic.
      It seems that it would be extremely reckless in this litigious society for an entire school board to make a unanimous proclamation that racism is systemic in their school system thus insinuating guilt on the part of all teachers and administrators. That would not only be factually untrue, but it would impugn the character of every teacher and administrator working within that system. Ironically, just a few months ago, parents who were suddenly homeschooling their children were singing the praises of teachers and wondering how they managed to teach whole classrooms of children. Parents even commented that after experiencing the role of the teacher with their own children they believed teachers’ salaries should be a million dollars. The praise for teachers was loud and grateful. How can teachers go from being hailed as heroes to being labeled as racists in the span of several months? What is the purpose of these labels?
      Racism and bigotry is something that impacts people in all walks of life and none should be prioritized over any other, all forms are just wrong, but the solution is not more name calling, labeling, or violence. A pound of flesh is a poor substitute for wise actions and lasting solutions.
      Some board members need to limit the name calling, admit when their passions cause them to cross the line, treat all those within their purview fairly, and consider all issues within the scope of their job if they want to make real progress and differences in the school system and for the students they represent.

  5. Former Cobb County Teacher | June 26, 2020 at 3:02 pm | Reply

    This is an embarrassment to the people of Cobb County. I watched the proceedings and was at a loss when I heard Scamihorn say systematic racism was a “nonstarter” for him. The eye roll from David Banks when Ms. Davis was speaking was completely appalling also. These old white guys have got to go. The idea that you can brush over and solve racism with the Golden Rule is ridiculous. This meeting was the definition of white fragility. I’d encourage those who didn’t watch the meeting to do so.

    • Are you displaying racism and bigotry when you use the words “old” and “white” disparagingly? Can you assert your ideas without demeaning?

  6. This is the dumbest thing ever. This behavior only intends to out non-activists (everyone) and politicizes everything.

  7. Nicely written article. Good job Arielle.

  8. CCSD resident | June 26, 2020 at 4:51 pm | Reply

    so I watched the video/meeting. The entire meeting and not just read the summary.

    It is EVIDENT that the negativity of 2 board members is preventing them from working collaboratively. I mean, the constant questioning, interruptions, negativity and name calling. WOW!

    I truly appreciated the willingness of Mr. Morgan to intervene, and at times, clarify to some the intent of the resolution presented. Out of all, he had the best suggestions about every topic discussed during the meeting.

    Day in and day out, we teach our students to collaborate. STEM for instance, students individually create a plan about how solve a problem. Then, with a partner or group, together, they decide on what parts to keep from each original plan and what parts to take as they collaboratively make a cohesive plan.

    Sounds like what the BOE needs to do!

    I don’t think we should mention specific names in the resolution as suggested by Dr Howard. Focus on the main idea and not the supporting details.

    It’s a shame that two educated grown men needed an intermediary to get to work together. 🙄

    • karen williams | June 26, 2020 at 6:37 pm | Reply

      They have a tight little group over their in Administration practiced in redirection and ignore. When i saw them cover for Billy Pritz principle at Kemp elementary i saw how dirty some of these people can be. A big part of the Problem is they use police as personal body guards. and the friendships they have with the cops interfere with their jobs to uphold the law. Its a nasty group. they need to get the police out of the schools because they used them improperly.

  9. Let’s vote these three relics off the Board!

    • Karen Williams | June 26, 2020 at 6:29 pm | Reply

      I am a parent of a two children in Kemp elementary school. the principle their billy Pritz is an out right liar and racist. Watch out for this man. He likes to use the police as personal security. The cops their dont enforce law they enforce their friends working at the schools ideas. Watch him closely.

      • Steve Parcell | June 27, 2020 at 11:13 am | Reply

        OH, we have had some run ins will Bill Pritz. He is under the impression he is the second coming. Everyone needs to keep an eye on this one. He is big on redirection covering up the misdeeds of staff. He is dangerous for the safety of students.

  10. thomas wilkens | June 26, 2020 at 6:19 pm | Reply

    This is beyond wrong. the group black lives matter has repeated shown on national TV that they are a hate group. They have done this by chanting the words dead cops now pigs in a blanket. this is no secrete. this group wants to tear down statues of Christ, statues of people who freed the slaves and so on. this is not a group of change it is a group of destruction. For anyone to recognize this group or any like it is wrong. Do not bring this non sense into our school system. It does not belong their. BLM is a racist hate group. to allow it in is to invite the destruction of our schools

  11. Tara Gibbens | June 26, 2020 at 6:44 pm | Reply

    Why do they have a private police force. Cobb county police that answer not to the public official but to the superintendent. Talk about a conflict of interest. So when the school employees break a law they handle it on the down low so to say.

  12. Angela L Fitch | June 26, 2020 at 7:31 pm | Reply

    I am a former Teacher of Cobb County Public Schools. First, Cobb County Public schools has systematic race issues. Second, systematic racism isn’t an indictment of one person, that’s why its called a system. For example: 8th Grade Social Studies curriculum teaches that the Civil War was about states rights. That is a flat out lie, the succession speech from the first state to succeed SC states the very reason of slavery. When Obama became President, the school board determined that students could be exempt from listening to the President of US speak if they wanted too. That was purely driven by race and politics. The county never did that with any other President! Both are examples of systematic racism. The discipline issue is a fact, young Black men are disciplined harsher for the same infractions of Young White men ,look at the statistics , they are available! Also, look at the drop.out rate of young Black men. I taught ELA and Social Studies and taught the absolute truth,my students of all backgrounds loved me for it and respected me. As a teacher I encountered racist remarks from parents as well as students, students wearing Confederate flags without impunity and the list goes on. However, I was supported by Administrators with every incident. I also was lead on restorative circles with Black students who were called racial epithets and accused of not being patriotic because they liked Obama. As a side note, I will be sending a letter with more detail to the board. In case your wondering I wasn’t fired nor was I ever on a Personal Improvement Plan. I taught from 2005- 2016.. I resigned so that I could take care of my elderly parents.

    • Denise Gibbons | June 27, 2020 at 1:43 pm | Reply

      You wrote something based in opinion. But simply not the truth. What is your definition of systemic racism and give an example. problem is you can. your example will be a twisted view. OH cobb has a lot of problems dont add to them.

  13. Concerned Human | June 26, 2020 at 10:58 pm | Reply

    I do not think that the phrase, “black lives matter”, should be used as a litmus test or as a scare tactic that is becoming reminiscent of tactics used in “Macarthism”. I would also like to see less name calling between all board members and commenters, and more civil conversation. While there is racism in some segments of our society, it is foolish to say that “racism” is systemic in the school system and it only clouds the real issues we should be discussing like how can we improve the educational experience for black students, What does acceptable behavior look like in school, why are our predominately blacks schools failing despite infusions of Title One funds, and how can we provide a factual account of our history that doesn’t seek to empower or demean? Human rights are not exclusive to any one segment of humanity and all people have the right to voice their opinions, whether they agree or not, without being demeaned for their ideas, race, culture, or their age, for when you do that, you become the very thing you are fighting.

  14. 40+ Cobb Male with No Color | June 27, 2020 at 8:29 am | Reply

    I have no idea why you would require anyone to say to say Black Lives Matter. Let alone start a meeting with that requirement. I think the BLM movement is filled with hatred against white people so I’m not surprised he rejected the idea. And the calls to have him fired rather than attempt to work with him is just as disgusting. Maybe we should remove race from the statistics you all are using and look at who is getting in trouble and what kind of homes they come from. Maybe then we can help those kids improve their own lives.

    Stop dividing America using race and negativity. A majority of white people are tired of being called racist as a blanket term when there are tons of Black Americans who hate white people for being white. Isn’t that racist too?

  15. Thomas Sanders | June 27, 2020 at 11:16 am | Reply

    The only good one on this board is Brad. He is strait forward and by the book. I hope we get more people like him on the board. He is open minded, there is a process we have the rules. Again a strait shooter no games.

  16. Of course, black lives matter! What we have witnessed and experienced in the last few months, as well as the last few years, absolutely turns my stomach; it’s sickening to see the way black people are still being treated in this country, and I am appalled (but not surprised) that we’re still having this conversation in 2020. And yes, the Golden Rule is a good start, as it ensures that black lives matter as much as anybody else’s (don’t want to be treated like black folks are treated? Don’t treat them that way either! Case closed). It seems to me that Mr. Morgan is the voice of reason in this matter, looking at the big picture rather than getting bogged down in the details (good on you sir!). In closing, it would not have hurt Mr. Ragsdale at all to say that black lives matter, as well as invoking the Golden Rule, and I think he may have missed an opportunity to heal some wounds and rebuild some burned bridges.

  17. One more point; kudos to Arielle Robinson for this well-written report.

  18. 30-something white female SHS grad | June 27, 2020 at 12:26 pm | Reply

    Scamihorn using the phrase “Though you [Davis] weren’t old enough, I was old enough to watch in horror, in the 60s as a young man” to try and lift his credit over a person of color’s concerns and life experience as a person of color shows exactly how antiquated his opinion on the matter is. The fact he didn’t even bother to work with the POC on the board, let alone not even listen to their concerns after he moved forward with his own written statement and had to request intermediaries in order to work with the POC board members is full proof he doesn’t belong there. Why couldn’t he have simply said “of course black lives matter” instead of ignoring it completely? He could’ve even followed that up with “I believe all lives matter, and that’s why black lives matter too” and it likely would’ve gotten him further. Don’t get it twisted. He is the agitator here by not showing any sort of empathy or willingness to listen. He did nothing but prove the existence of systemic rascism in Cobb by his unwillingness to let the POC be part of the conversation on something they have tremendous more experience on, even if they weren’t alive to “watch in horror during the 60s.”
    The only way for us all to move forward is to call a spade a spade, and use terms like “systemic rascism” allowing us to address our past head on and give those on the receiving end the platform to speak.

    I say the color of my skin specifically for people like Scamihorn and those that agree with him to see that they have a fight amongst the beneficiaries of systemic rascism. If you got angry from my declaration, than you are specifically who needs to hear this and need to start listening more to the pleas of persons of color before you react.

    • You are so bound by your views that you cannot see beyond your own prejudices. I am in no way angry, I’m simply making an observation about your language. Attacking and assigning motive is a productive way to affect change that stems only from coercion and continued resentment. If you want real change it has to arise from a place of mutual respect and I see very little of that being exhibited. Please give specific examples, not generalizations, of the systemic racism you say exists.

  19. Jack Renniel | June 27, 2020 at 1:48 pm | Reply

    Black lives matter is a racist hate group. All lives matter. Of course the BLM members will agree then try to justify their logic. But black lives matter is a violent racist hate group by all legal definitions. Its leaders now want to rip down any statue of Christ. Dont fall for it people black lives matter is a violent racist hate group

  20. very well written article. hats off to Arielle.

  21. If their really is systematic racism in Cobb…then there should be EVIDENCE to show it…not just statistical data that has NOT been statically adjusted proportionally to the demographic school population…the reason it has not is that it will not show racism in Cobb on a systematic level… so they use partial data to sway other sheep…I’m a realist …show me the real numbers and show me proof that one child didnt get in a AP class solely based on race…and show that it is systematic then we can start addressing it…and dealing with those individuals that are making racist choices to weed them out of CSD… dont fall for the fear of being labeled a racist when you know you are not…many are throwing out labels to get innocent people to feel bad…this is wrong…instead we need to concentrate on getting to the bottom of why certain POC are getting the academic credit they deserve if this is happening then it is easy to call it out and those that made the decision …then we can weed out any CSD personnel that really are racist…

  22. Max timberline | June 27, 2020 at 8:18 pm | Reply

    Because of the violence and hate and racist ideas such as black supremacy and death chants BLM does it will eventually be deemed a Hate Group. To open the door for this type of group you would have to open the door to other hate groups such as the KKK or satanists groups. We have laws on the books that protect people. they work. thats not what these people want to see. These groups want to see things given to them they want to be put in front of the line not because of their work but for something much different. And if anyone is put to the back of the line because of this hate they have the right to see you in court. be careful. the ideas they are trying to promote go against American values

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