The hearing was slated to start at 9 a.m., but had to be postponed because only two of the three board members - Dr. John Abraham and David Banks - were present.
At 9:30 a.m., with Morgan still a no-show, the tribunal was postponed to 11 a.m., the time Morgan informed his colleagues he might be able to make it by. At 11:25 a.m., Morgan strolled into the boardroom in shorts and tennis shoes, saying he had forgotten that the hearing was that day.
Morgan took office in January 2009, and according to district records, has been absent for at least 14 of the board's 40 meetings, though that includes special sessions, such as budget meetings.
On Thursday, the district began its first of more than 30 appeal hearings scheduled this summer for tenured teachers who were fired or laid off. Any tenured teacher who is fired or laid off from the district is allowed to contest that action through an appeal hearing.
On June 11, John Adams, director of employee relations for CCSD, said that 37 hearings were scheduled for the summer, and most of the hearings are for teachers who were let go because of job performance issues, such as an unsatisfactory on a teacher evaluation. In order to be a tenured teacher, the person has to have taught for four years in Cobb County, or have been a tenured teacher in another district, and then taught for two additional years in Cobb.
Dr. David Deru, a former ninth grade biology teacher at Hillgrove High School who was fired because of an unsatisfactory rating on his teacher evaluation, took the stand at Thursday's appeal hearing, saying he felt persecuted at the school.
"The atmosphere was very condescending, very patronizing, very racist," Deru said.
Deru, a Cobb teacher for 9 years and an educator for more than 32 years, was reassigned to Hillgrove after eight years at South Cobb High School.
The school district's attorney, Nina Gupta, of Brock, Clay, Calhoun and Rogers, said Deru was supposed to be laid off after the 2008-09 school year for an unsatisfactory teacher evaluation, but because of glitch in the district's system with the timing of his paperwork, he was transferred to Hillgrove.
Gupta and neither of the district's human resources representatives who testified, Dr. Donald Dunning, the chief of HR, and Tim Baker, CCSD's director of employment, further explained the situation regarding Deru's end of employment at South Cobb. Hillgrove Principal Robert Shaw testified that not only did he observe issues with Deru's classroom management, but that he had fielded numerous complaints from students and teachers regarding Deru throughout the school year.
"There's really nothing I saw, either officially, formally or informally that indicates he's a good teacher," Shaw said of Deru. "...We've never had any personal issues ... but professionally, he's not a good teacher and he's not good for the kids at Hillgrove High School."
Deru's attorney, Borquaye Thomas of the Law Office of B.A. Thomas, LLC in Atlanta, called only Deru to testify.
Darrell Caudill, Jr., of Roach, Caudill and Gunn, LLP from Canton, served as the hearing officer.
The tribunal has five days to make a written recommendation to the entire school board about whether to reinstate Deru's contract, and then the full board makes the final decision.