UPDATE: A spokesperson for the Cobb County School District sent the Courier the following response when asked about the letter from MIC:
“We value and hear the thoughts of every member of our community and will continue to make decisions based on students and staff needs, not political pressure.”
The Board of Directors of the Mableton Improvement Coalition sent a searing letter to the Cobb County Board of Education over the board’s response to the death of three Cobb educators, which included a dramatic moment in which two board members and the superintendent refused to don masks during a moment of silence for the deceased.
Superintendent Chris Ragsdale, and Republican board members David Chastain and David Banks refused to don masks.
The letter highlights the partisan conflict on the board, which now has a composition of four white Republicans and three Black Democrats.
This conflict has led to, among other things, the Republican majority removing the board member comment section of the meetings.
The letter is reprinted below:
Superintendent Chris Ragsdale, and board members David Chastain and David BanksMr. Chris Ragsdale, Superintendent
Mr. Randy Scamihorn, Chairman
Mr. David Banks, Board Member
Mr. David Chastain, Board Member
Ms. Charisse Davis, Board, Member
Dr. Jaha Howard, Member
Mr. Leroy Tre’ Hutchins, Board Member
Mr. Brad Wheeler, Board Member
Dear Cobb County School Board of Education
We are calling on you to show responsible leadership we can depend on during this Coronavirus pandemic crisis and beyond. You have been elected and selected by the residents of Cobb County to perform a vitally important job, which includes leading by example, and being an example of exemplary leadership. Our teachers, students, and the community at large, deserve to know you are working in their best interest and they are the number one priority.
Sadly, the Board’s behavior and actions have not been acceptable and not what we expect from our Superintendent and Board members. We do not see teamwork or deliberate, pragmatic thought given to solving our most basic concerns such as school safety, student educational achievement, compassion, and direction for those you have been given the responsibility of leading.
The January 21st board meeting crystalized your dysfunction to the community and to the world at large. Your failure to discuss the coronavirus pandemic, help us mourn the loss of three educators, and even wear masks, gave the appearance to all who watched, that there was a lack of appropriate caring or concern. This dysfunctionality must come to an end.
Our expectation is that Board members and the Superintendent be viewed as models of good behavior by wearing masks and encouraging the widespread use of safety measures that will aid in the efforts to stop the spread of the deadly Coronavirus disease in our community.
We acknowledge that there may be occasions when members may not be in full agreement on issues that affect specific areas of the district. However, it is critical that all voices are heard, and all points of view taken into consideration as part of the Board’s decision-making process. The ability to provide input and raise concerns is the responsibility of each elected individual Board member and must be respected. Your recent actions to eliminate Board member comments and to require majority consent to even discuss an issue has resulted in shutting out the voice of three of the seven areas in the district. Majority rule is one thing; silencing the voices of the three South Cobb Board members is another.
We stand in support of all CCSD educators, our Board members, and everyone involved in the success of our school system. We are dedicated to keeping our community informed and to doing our part as a community organization.
Please take immediate measures to model good safety behavior, be respectful of each other, and provide a forum where all the issues that face our educational system can be openly discussed and resolved.
Then, we can all get back to working together to make Cobb County a great place to live and educate our children.
Board of Directors
Mableton Improvement Coalition
Requests via email to board Chairman Randi Scamihorn and to the Cobb County School District for comment had not been answered by the deadline for this article, but we will update the article with their responses if we receive them.