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Atlanta Public Schools
Tue November 13, 2012
APS Board Chair Asks Parents To File Ethics Complaints Against Other Board Member
The chair of the Atlanta Board of Education says there’s nothing wrong with asking parents to file ethics complaints against a fellow board member.
Chairman Reuben McDaniel tells WABE he’s just trying to maintain a level of transparency.
McDaniel admits he first asked one parent to file an ethics complaint against fellow board member Courtney English.
That parent according to McDaniel was Julie Salisbury of the parent group, Step Up For Public Schools.
Salisbury confirmed the request to WABE.
McDaniel says he wanted to know whether or not Courtney English was in violation of a board policy.
“I received information late in the evening that was fairly hearsay, if you will, that there had been an issue with Courtney working for a company that was soliciting business with APS.”
But Salisbury refused to file the complaint and according to McDaniel suggested another APS parent, Janet Kishbaugh.
“Because Janet was a lawyer and had filed some complaints before so Julie put me in touch with Janet and I had that conversation with her," McDaniel told WABE.
In an email obtained by WABE, Kishbaugh told McDaniel that documentation would be needed to file a complaint.
WABE has confirmed the authenticity of that email.
Kishbaugh filed an open records request to obtain documents for review that would help her determine whether or not to file a complaint.
The email details her frustration with open records and how she initially was asked to file a complaint against Courtney English.
According to Kishbaugh, she was told by McDaniel that if she filed the complaint, “APS would produce a file of documents immediately to back up the complaint.”
McDaniel denies using that precise language.
“I did not tell her that. I was responding to a question she had about needing to get more information. She said I don’t have the information to substantiate this complaint. And I said if you file an ethics complaint, they’ll [APS ethics commission] have to produce the document to support the complaint.”
Usually the complainant provides evidence to the ethics commission to support the accusation.
Link to the excerpt from the email sent to APS Superintendent Erroll Davis, Deputy Superintendent and Chief of Staffs Steve Smith, members of the superintendent's cabinet and all members of the Atlanta Board of Education.
Any citizen and that includes APS board members can file an ethics complaint.
When asked why he chose to ask parents to do it, McDaniel again said the accusations were hearsay.
McDaniel claims he and Courtney English have talked and everything is fine.
Per board policy, English cannot comment to the media about board issues.
But now according to McDaniel, Courtney English has not violated any board polices because he does not
work for a company doing business with APS and therefore hasn’t violated any board polices.
The company at the center of the controversy is Child First.