Cobb School board member David Banks’ emails raise ethics questions

The logo on front of a Cobb County School District facilityCobb County School District sign (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

By Rebecca Gaunt

Cobb County School Board Vice Chairman David Banks is still sending emails to parents that refer to COVID-19 as the “China virus,” despite community backlash from a previous incident.

Last week, he also sent parents emails about a recent pandemic lockdown study, but with additional commentary demanding Dr. Anthony Fauci be fired because he and “his Democrat buddies ran one of the biggest cons in the history of the country to gain power.”

The study has been widely reported in the media as being a “Johns Hopkins study,” but while one of the three economists who wrote it, Steve H. Hanke, is affiliated with the school, the non-peer reviewed working paper has not been endorsed by the university.

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“This is wildly inappropriate and he should be removed from his post,” one recipient said.

Another recipient responded to Banks, along with the rest of the Cobb school board and state Superintendent Richard Woods, in an email, writing, “I do not know what kind of unsolicited mailing list you have me on but these emails need to cease immediately! I cannot believe you and others continue to sit on a board that makes detrimental decisions without any recourse, for our children’s health and learning needs.”

Rabbi Larry Sernovitz of Temple Kol Emeth, who worked with former board Chairman Randy Scamihorn on an anti-semitism resolution, tweeted that Banks’ emails are ethical violations in need of retraction.

“We will hold you accountable,” he wrote.

In 2017, Banks stirred controversy by forwarding a debunked email about Mexican immigrants. Then-Chairman David Chastain, who was selected to serve as chairman again last month in a 4-3 vote along party lines, wrote in an email to the AJC that because Banks was using his personal email account, “this matter is not within (the board’s) legal purview.”

The most recent emails are from a personal account, which appears to have been in use since at least 2005, based on a web search that turned up an old post on a message board that included Banks’ name and Marietta location.

Previous emails discouraging mask use, despite the district’s claim that masks are “highly encouraged,” and promoting hydroxychloroquine came from his campaign email account.

Emails stating that “the government is intentionally killing its citizens” and discouraging vaccination came from his official board member account.

The emails often appear to contain material cut and pasted from other sources, and not necessarily written by Banks. He has been criticized for the contents of his Grapevine newsletter, sarcastic responses to parents, and for sending unsolicited emails. Some parents have also complained that their requests to stop receiving communication from him have been ignored.

In January, Banks was chosen to serve as vice chairman for the third year in a row in a 4-3 vote along partisan lines.

Board member Dr. Jaha Howard objected saying, “Mr. Banks has also had several concerning behavioral issues that have been discussed behind the scenes and, for some reason, he has continued to be nominated as chair.”

Banks, Chastain, Chief Strategy and Accountability Officer John Floresta, and Cobb County School District spokesperson Nan Kiel were asked for comment. They did not respond.

Rebecca Gaunt earned a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in education from Oglethorpe University. After teaching elementary school for several years, she returned to writing. She lives in Marietta with her husband, son, two cats, and a dog. In her spare time, she loves to read, binge Netflix and travel.

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4 Comments on "Cobb School board member David Banks’ emails raise ethics questions"

  1. Ridiculous that this man stays at his post. We came to Cobb County for the great public schools, but now go private due in part to the circus that is the Cobb County School Board. David Banks is a clown who cares nothing about education, but only about promoting his political and personal beliefs.

  2. If a teacher were to repeatedly send out emails like these (from a work email OR personal email, they would be reprimanded. Our school board should have the same levels of accountability.

  3. Same David banks who spread the immigration hoax in 2017, nothings changed, huh?

  4. I have been commenting in this publication and others for weeks about the bizarre collection of knuckle draggers we are saddled with as a school board. This is another example of why school board seats should be non-partisan, with folks elected based on their experience and credentials related to education, not political agendas, racism, how long they can breathe with their head stuck in the sand, etc. Gwinnett County has seen the damage done by politics on school boards and has filed legislation to make their school board non-partisan. Why not Cobb? It would be the first positive step to protect our children and teachers from the likes of Banks, Chastain, and Ragsdale, who is totally unqualified and sits in the superintendent’s chair only due to the support of the four Republican mummies. Someone should call the accrediting agency and let them know NOTHING has changed since their audit. If anything, things are worse!!

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