Thayer, a retired educator, is running for southeast Cobb’s Post 2 seat and faces incumbent Tim Stultz in the Republican primary July 22. Though she signed an affidavit saying she was fully aware of a state nepotism policy, Thayer said Wednesday she’s never heard of it.
“I’ve not read the policy or even looked at it at all,” Thayer said. “I don’t know.”
The policy, listed under O.C.G.A. 20-2-51, says local school board members cannot have an immediate family member serving as a “principal, assistant principal or system administrative staff” in the district they serve.
Thayer’s husband, Ed Thayer, is supervisor of the Lassiter High School Concert Hall.
The affidavit signed by Thayer on March 5 reads, “I have read and understand the code of ethics and the conflict of interest provisions applicable to members of local boards of education and agree to abide by them.”
Thayer added she fully intends to follow the policy once she learns more about it.
“I’m not familiar with it, but I’ll follow all the rules and regulations,” she said. “I would never break a rule.”
Calls and emails sent to Thayer for clarification Friday were not returned.
A ‘gray area’
Because Thayer is a candidate and not a school board member, it’s unclear if the policy applies to her before she takes office. If she beats Stultz in July and then Democrat Kenya Pierre on Nov. 4, she would assume office Jan. 1, 2015.
Cobb Elections Director Janine Eveler said the issue isn’t likely to affect Thayer’s candidacy unless she decides to drop out.
“The time period to challenge someone’s candidacy has already passed,” Eveler said. “What would have to happen is if she wins the election, somebody would have to file a lawsuit to a Superior Court judge saying she’s not qualified.”
Stultz said his understanding is Thayer has a conflict because of her husband’s job, but added it’s not his place to decide.
School Board Chairwoman Kathleen Angelucci thinks Thayer should have known about the policy before signing the papers.
“I would assume that when Mrs. Thayer qualified, she was very well-versed in everything,” Angelucci said. “You signed something saying you know everything. I was very worried before I signed it because I wanted to make sure I knew everything.”
Randy Scamihorn, vice chair of the school board, said his advice to Thayer would be “reread your campaign paperwork and get a clear interpretation.”
He agreed Thayer should have known about the policy before signing her name.
But according to Eveler, a legal challenge can only happen if Thayer actually takes office.
“The election happens, basically,” Eveler said. “If she wins, then somebody would have to say, ‘Yeah, you won, but I challenge your qualification.’ She could withdraw, or, if they wanted to, her husband could resign.”