In a surprise move at the board's July 23 meeting, the Rev. Dr. John Crooks, who represents Eastvalley, called for the board to approve a request from T-Mobile to erect a cell tower by the school, which the board approved.
Yet when the board's agenda was published earlier that week, nowhere did it mention the board would vote on the cell tower proposal.
Crooks admitted to the Journal that if he hadn't slipped the item onto the agenda at the last minute "it would have probably caused a circus."
In May, Crooks backed off the proposed tower when residents in the Eastvalley community objected, saying it would loom over their homes and harm property values.
Georgia's Open Meeting law states that when it comes to agendas and board meetings, "Prior to any meeting, the agency holding such meeting shall make available an agenda of all matters expected to come before the agency at such meeting. The agenda shall be available upon request and shall be posted at the meeting site, as far in advance of the meeting as reasonably possible."
On Wednesday, two men who live in homes near the school, architect Ben Skaggs and chiropractor Rick Welvis, spoke to the board during the public comment portion of the meeting, saying they had consulted with attorney Rob Stein, a partner with Weissman, Nowack, Curry & Wilco in Atlanta, about how to stop the cell tower.
Skaggs and Welvis say they were advised that prior to taking the board to court, they should offer the board a chance to revote on the tower so the public has the opportunity to comment.
"He's advised us to try to bring this back up for a vote again and try to get the board members to reconsider this, and I ask you John (Crooks) to really fulfill your promises with the neighborhood over there," Skaggs said.
Skaggs said the July 23 vote came as quite a surprise to his neighborhood since Crooks had previously announced he would canvas the neighborhood within a half a mile radius and allow for public comment on the matter before it came to a vote.
The men have an answering machine message Crooks made pledging he would not vote on the matter before August.
"What I'm here today to try to do is try to get the board to reconsider another vote on this in the upcoming school board meeting so we can try to get the neighborhood and the public involved in this because quite frankly we canvassed the area. We have over now 100 signatures against this. These neighbors are quite nervous about the property values of their homes and there's other concerns as well," Skaggs said.
Skaggs asked the board what kind of message they were sending to the children in Eastvalley by promising one thing and doing another.
"We're ready to go forward with legal action if we need to, but I don't think it needs to come to this. I think it needs to be reopened and done in a proper manner," Welvis said.
Crooks remained silent on the topic during the meeting.
The Journal asked Cobb school board Chairman Dr. John Abraham, who sets the agenda, if he planned on placing the cell tower on the next agenda for a revote.
"I look to John as the representative of that post. I've got to defer to him." Abraham said.
Nor would Abraham say whether he believed slipping the cell tower onto the agenda without previous notice was a violation of the Open Meetings Act.
"This should be something John Crooks has to answer, not me," Abraham said.
Crooks indicated on Thursday that he may call for another vote.
"I am open to the possibility of asking the board to reconsider their decision," Crooks said.
He would not, however, comment on whether he thought slipping the item onto the agenda at the last minute violated Georgia's sunshine laws.
On a similar topic, Anthony Scott Hobbs, the former chairman of the Cobb Republican Party, addressed the board on the issue of accountability and transparency, saying he had recently formed a group of political and business leaders in Cobb called Cobb Countians for Accountable Government.
Hobbs cited recent board actions such as adopting a standards-based, "3-2-1" report card that many residents opposed, its history of voting in executive session in violation of the Open Meetings Act and failing to involve the public in the budget process.
"I think one of the biggest emphases that we have here today, No. 1 is your commitment to the community from an accountability and transparency factor that all of these headlines that we keep seeing out there, whether they're on transparency or accountability issues, come to an end and have some type of strategic plan to deal with transparency in the community," Hobbs said.
Moreover, he called on the board to have a strategy involving the public on the front end of any budget cuts.
"You're in a very, very difficult spot as elected officials, and I certainly empathize with you on that, but I think what you're seeing out there is a groundswell that's starting to occur especially when you look at base Republican or conservative circles which many of you are that are starting to analyze and question what's happening with the board today," Hobbs said.