We have had these speeches stemming from the September 6 Work Session in our possession for a while and wanted to post them mainly for archiving. The public communication between board members during the superintendent search should be recorded so that everyone can read what each person actually said, and not what the gossip mills say people said.
First, Nancy Jester and Don McChesney each made statements at the August 29 meeting before taking the vote on the new superintendent explaining their personal decision to vote "no". Pam Speak's made a statement directly after the vote, highlighted in the August 29 post where she states, "The search for a new super has been an arduous and painful endeavor. I expected arduous, but not painful. I expected that we would interview highly qualified candidates. I did not consider that person needed to look like me. I will support Dr. Atkinson. I pledge my full support to her." All three stated that if hired, they would support Dr. Atkinson fully.
While Nancy and Don spoke, several of the other board members "walked out" of the board meeting. It was not recorded on camera, however, several print and internet news sources reported this behavior. At the next meeting, Donna Edler and Gene Walker each made speeches in defense of their actions and in support of the superintendent. The statements included some accusations about each other that simply weren't true. This is why we want to go ahead and post or link to every word that was said.
Dr. Walker's statement was posted on the AJC "Get Schooled" blog and can be read here. Nancy Jester posted her statement at her website. It can be read here. And Don's statement can also be found on Nancy's blog by clicking here.
The text of Donna Edler's statement has not been published. We transcribed it from the video and it follows here:
It has been reported that I walked out of the Friday, August 29 called meeting for a brief period of time during the reading of comments by Mr. McChesney. I walked out shortly after Mr. McChesney started his diatribe accusing board members, those in a minority faction, those present in the room did not support the candidate. He accused those board members of 1) leaking confidential information, 2) not caring much for the rules and oaths that we had taken and 3) seeking power and direction. He followed this defamation of our character by stating, “The real losers here are all the children of DeKalb.”
I realize that my exit may be perceived by some as neither respectful nor professional. If any persons were offended by my acts of civil disobedience and personal protection, I apologize, as that was not my intent. Please know, however, that I will protect my person and my health from bullying and insult whether that bullying and insult comes from persons in the general public or from member or members of this board. Unless and until such actions are curbed, I will not dignify such bullying, insults and innuendo with my presence.
Not only were Mr. McChesney’s statements hurtful and provocative, they were untrue. That is, leaks were obviously done by a minority faction of those present in the room. There was absolutely no justification or provocation for Mr. McChesney’s inflamed comments. Not only did anonymous leaks occur, the source of the leaks remain unknown. There was also at least one breach that was indentifyable. All breaches compromise the search process to some extent. The board was not silent on the issue of leaks and breaches, as Mr. McChesney indicated. The matter was discussed at length in executive session. I, for one, promoted public acknowledgement and condemnation of such breaches. It was the will of the board that we not make addititional attention to the board, I’m sorry. Mr. McChesney would have you believe that it was only he, and other selected few who were against such breaches. Mr. McChesney’s insulting comments, not his opposition to the board’s choice for superintendent were offensive, uncalled for, unprofessional and certainly not productive.
As a board, we are not going to agree on every issue. It is our duty, however, to both argue our position during executive session and/or during our board meetings as appropriate and accept the majority vote to execute it with professionalism and unified manner. With respect to the selection of the district superintendent, I along with others on the board, researched and shared that research with the entire board. During executive session, every voice was heard and all positions were fully deliberated. A host of candidates, including a couple of my favorites did not arise to the level of finalist. Like Dr. Speaks indicated in her statement, gender or the need to look like me was not part of my evaluation matrix. However, unlike Miss Jester commented, I am not disappointed in the outcome of our superintendent search. The process, despite some breaches, was inclusive, thorough, and just. I am happy to welcome Dr. Cheryl Atkinson as our new superintendent. I thank the entire board of education for its full participation in the superintendent search and selection process. Thank you.