Cherokee County group to begin process of asking for school board member recall
by Michelle Babcock
October 04, 2013 12:13 AM | 1394 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A leader in an effort to remove Cherokee School Board member Kelly Marlow from office said the group is preparing to begin the recall process following an ethics violation sanction against Marlow by the Board of Education on Wednesday.

Christine Rea, the treasurer for the Special Committee to Recall Marlow and creator of the SCRAM! Facebook group, said the group is “definitely preparing.”

“We’re definitely in the stages of preparing for the recall,” Rea said Thursday. “The decision that the board made was definitely favorable for the recall. We’re going to wait to see what the end results are from her legal troubles that she will be facing and hopefully this month the grand jury will meet and give us something else.”

The committee registered in late June with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, formerly known as the State Ethics Commission and shares the acronym “SCRAM!” with a Facebook group that was created prior to the committee’s formation, and stands for Smart Citizens Rally Against Marlow.

Rea said, since the grand jury meets Oct. 14 and 15, the committee is waiting to see if Marlow, her political consultant Robert Trim and Cherokee County GOP Secretary Barbara Knowles are indicted, before the committee makes formal plans to begin the recall process.

Marlow, Trim and Knowles each were charged with one felony count of making false statements about an incident in June, when they reportedly told Canton Police that the local superintendent nearly hit them with a car while they were walking to a tavern in downtown Canton after a heated board meeting, police records show.

Chair of the recall committee, Michelle Albers, said the group’s next step will be decided after word comes back from the grand jury later this month.

“The decision (at the hearing) works in our favor — we created the committee in June and have been waiting on the right time to move forward,” Albers said Thursday.

“Our plans are to take what happened (at the meeting) and take what happens at the grand jury, and then we’ll be better prepared to move forward.”

School Board Chair Janet Read said Thursday she was glad the hearing was over and she was ready to get back to what’s important in the district — “the students.”

“I’m pleased that that step in the process is completed. I think that Mr. Dorsey (the hearing officer) did an outstanding job of handling the hearing and I appreciated everyone’s time and attention, and how considerate all the parties were that were involved,” Read said Thursday.

Marlow told a metro radio station earlier this week that if the board found her in violation of their ethics policies, she would make an appeal to the state Board of Education.

According to Cherokee County School District policy, “A board member subject to sanction may, within 30 days of such sanction vote, appeal such decision to the State Board of Education in accordance with the rules and regulations of the State Board of Education.”

Marlow, her attorney Tom Salata, and Trim, her political consultant, did not respond to multiple requests for comment by press time.

State Board of Education rules state that, “The State Board of Education shall affirm or reverse the decision to sanction such board member in accordance with the procedures set forth…”

Read said Thursday that board ethics sanctions are “an un-plowed ground,” and if Marlow were to make an appeal, the local district would “go with whatever the appeals process decides.”

“I do not believe that the board is going to be as heavily involved with that, I think that will be more between the attorneys and the state Board of Education,” Read said.

After four hours of testimony and discussion at the hearing on Wednesday, the Cherokee County School Board voted to sanction Marlow for two violations of the board’s ethics policy, and fine her $3,600 to help reimburse the district for the cost of the hearing.

The hearing was called to determine if Marlow violated the school board’s code of ethics by sending a complaint letter in June to AdvancEd and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the agency in charge of school accreditation, claiming that the district was in violation of their standards and/or policies.

In July, Marlow joined the board in a unanimous vote to hold the ethics hearing.

In August, AdvancEd found the district was not in violation of the agency’s standards and/or policies.

The complete video of the hearing was put online, on the district’s website, and is available for those who would like to watch it, at: http://www.cherokee.k12.ga.us/board/meetings/100213/default.aspx. Under the capitalized header “Meeting Minutes,” click on the video hyperlink.

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