Marlow also releases letter saying Cherokee County School Board ‘riddled with intimidation’
July 06, 2013 12:04 AM | 2320 views | 1 1 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
By Michelle Babcock

mbabcock@mdjonline.com

Cherokee County School Board member Kelly Marlow released a letter Friday sent to local media and published on her blog in which she claims the school district is “riddled with intimidation.”

In the letter, Marlow defended her June complaint to SACS, accusing the school district administration and board members of denying her a chance to resolve issues with them as a board and of using “fear mongering.”

“I now fully understand why parents, teachers, future, current and former employees, and sadly even board members associated with the Cherokee County School District tremble with such fear when challenging the status quo,” Marlow wrote. “It is precisely the fear tactics used by this administration and the board’s willingness to tolerate them that led to my letter to SACS.”

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank Petruzielo said Friday that Marlow’s letter made false allegations.

“This letter, like Ms. Marlow’s letter to AdvancEd, makes serious and false allegations,” Petruzielo said. “I and my staff are eager to answer any questions from AdvancEd to ensure our SACS CASI accreditation, which was renewed in November 2011 with glowing commendations for my leadership and the School Board’s governance, continues untarnished.”

Among the accusations, Marlow said in the letter that Board Chair Janet Read “would not direct the Superintendent and his staff to answer my direct questions.”

“I feel that this behavior has been a hindrance to the board’s ability to make good sound choices that we are elected by the people to do,” Marlow wrote.

Marlow did not respond to messages for further comment Friday.

Read responded to Marlow’s letter Friday, saying she preferred not to comment.

“After much consideration, I have decided not to address Ms. Marlow’s concerns via the media,” Read said. “I believe I am best serving the 39,000 children of our school district by remaining focused on our main mission — continuing to offer a quality education for every student.”

Marlow wrote in her letter that she did not “dread SACS,” and “nor should the citizens of Cherokee County.”

“I vehemently oppose the use of SACS as a tool to intimidate elected officials into constant state of deference to the unelected superintendents,” Marlow wrote.

Marlow wrote in her letter, “Nothing I have done has been done in haste,” and explained that she filed the complaint with AdvancED SACS because she had no other path.

“The clock is ticking for the tax payers. The budget vote is on the July 24th agenda. I felt that I was forced to act swiftly because the inaction of this governing body has left me no other path,” Marlow wrote.

Barbara Jacoby, CCSD director of Public Information, Communications and Partnerships, said Friday that the next CCSD school board meeting will include the opportunity for public comment.

“Regarding the School Board’s July 24 meeting to approve the budget, there will be, as is School Board Policy, the opportunity for public comment,” Jacoby said.

Marlow wrote in her letter that the citizens of Cherokee County are not easily fooled by the “minions of the monopoly,” and wrote that she “will not surrender to fear.”

“My hope, which mirrors that of many of your fellow citizens, is that SACS will come, give guidance and help make it possible for the duly elected officials to have access to the information necessary to make educated decisions for the best interest of the students and staff,” Marlow wrote.

Editor’s note:

Following is the letter sent by Kelly Marlow to local media and published on her blog Friday in its entirety

Acting on Wrongs

I now fully understand why parents, teachers, future, current and former employees, and sadly even board members associated with the Cherokee County School District tremble with such fear when challenging the status quo. If you have followed this situation, you have witnessed a clear, calculated and unprecedented smear campaign. Fortunately, the majority of citizens of this County, are not easily fooled by manipulative accounting practices, unfounded complaints, biased media reporting and fear mongering set forth from this administration and carried out by minions of the monopoly.

It is precisely the fear tactics used by this administration and the Board’s willingness to tolerate them that led to my letter to SACS. The letter addressed leadership and transparency, not academics. I repeat, I have not questioned the academic success our district has earned; however, the means to that end have been riddled with intimidation and a lack of separation on the part of elected officials and administration. I appreciate that my questions have motivated parents and teachers to action. I ran for office on a platform of open and honest communication and this is about doing what I was elected to do. It is about our children, who deserve better. I do not believe in leadership by intimidation and I will not surrender to fear. We have seen this tactic used repeatedly in this county in attempts to scare citizens into opposing reapportionment, the debt building E-SPLOST taxation and to make parents question their decision to choose the best education for their child. These tactics only serve to divide our community and stifle growth.

I do not dread SACS, nor should the citizens of Cherokee County, and I vehemently oppose the use of SACS as a tool to intimidate elected officials into constant state of deference to the unelected Superintendents. If the practice of obtaining accreditation by SACS is truly a process that “yields the best results for schools and school systems, and ultimately for students, by uniting community stakeholders, including education experts who provide personalized assistance to institutions and educational systems,” then they are the perfect vehicle for righting this ship. My hope, which mirrors that of many of your fellow citizens, is that SACS will come, give guidance and help make it possible for the duly elected officials to have access to the information necessary to make educated decisions for the best interest of the students and staff.

Nothing I have done has been done in haste. I certainly have made mistakes, but I have owned them and tried to remedy them. I am humbled by the outpouring of support I receive daily from community members, the majority of which sadly fear the repercussion of speaking out in opposition to the wrongs they witness. Sadly, I see many directing their frustration at me personally, rather than taking an opportunity to help improve CCSD, by focusing on the issues.

I have invited the Superintendent to meet with me personally. I have asked our Board Attorney to schedule a Board Retreat to resolve communication issues and to help this board find common ground to move past our differences. I have pleaded with the Board Chairman to conduct public hearings on the audit, the budget and the implementation of Common Core. It is unfortunate that the last response to my request was that she would not direct the Superintendent and his staff to answer my direct questions. I feel that this behavior has been a hindrance to the Board’s ability to make good sound choices that we were elected by the people to do.

The clock is ticking for the taxpayers. The budget vote is on the July 24th agenda. I felt that I was forced to act swiftly because the inaction of this governing body has left me no other path. As said in the poem Freedom in America by Joanna Fuchs, “Complacency is weakness, patriots can’t afford; we have to act on wrongs that cannot be ignored.

I remain your humble and duly elected servant,

Kelly Marlow

Kelly@kellyforourschools.com

Comments
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TMKSLK
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July 06, 2013
The only person we fear is Ms. Marlow, herself. She continues to stir the pot, make false accusations, and intimidate teachers.

As a teacher, I am personally proud to be employed by the CCSD. I am thrilled that the Board managed to give us back 4 furlough days and that they are student teaching days as well.
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