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Randolph County school board split

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By Len Kiese - bio | email

RANDOLPH COUNTY, GA (WALB) - Things just keep getting stranger with the Randolph County school board. Members are split into two factions. Even after going to court a couple of weeks ago to try to resolve some of their issues, they can't seem to agree on anything, not even when to meet.

"It's nothing but struggling for power and you don't have any power. God has all the power," said one Randolph County resident Tuesday night.

Some people in Randolph County believe it's a power struggle that started months ago. "That was the beginning of the end, January 2009," said another resident.

That struggle has led to a split Randolph County School Board. Tuesday night at the boardroom table sat the Superintendent Bobby Jenkins, Chairman Henry Cook and board member John Davis. The other seats? Empty.

"When are yall going to come together for the children? This is my concern," said one parent to board members.

Cook told a packed room that missing board members meant no board meeting could be held. But those three missing members did meet in the afternoon. "I couldn't tell you why there's a meeting at one and another at seven. I can tell you that the meeting at 7:05 is a meeting that is set by policy that we follow," said Cook.

Parents and concerned citizens wonder why board members can't simply come together at one time. We asked, "Is it your intention to keep having the 7:05 meeting?" Cook said, "That's in our policy. Yes sir."

We also questioned Cook to see if there would ever come a point where he would possibly end the separate meetings and meet with other board members at the time they voted on. "I don't think so sir. We have to go by our policy. Our policy says 7:05," said Cook.

And there's another question--how can things like policies be approved for an effective school year? "That's a good question," said Cook, "I couldn't give you an answer for that. We'll just have to deal with that as it comes and the best we can."

The biggest question that many have is what exactly it will take to bring the board together? "I wish I had an answer to that question but the remedy to that question is the community. At this point in time, at this junction, they are the ones that can make this happen," said Cook.

But they're the ones that seem the most confused in it all.  Some came up with a solution themselves. "The next 1 o'clock meeting, let's be there," said one woman. They'll attend the next daytime meeting themselves and maybe a second one the same night.

Another fear from some of those parents in attendance is that the school system will be the second in Georgia to lose their accreditation. Right now the system is on probation by the state. Henry Cook assured them that will not happen.

Earlier Tuesday, the other three board members met outside the school board office. Don Smith, Dymple McDonald and James Mock called the meeting to order outdoors because the board room was locked.

The majority voted to change the meeting time back in January but they say the chairman and superintendent refuse to recognize that.  Board members say they want some things changed. "The superintendent, some teachers, the way money is handled," said McDonald.

"We don't think they can legally have a meeting to terminate the superintendent. We don't think they have followed the law to do it," said Maurice King, attorney for Cook and Jenkins.

The board will hold a hearing next Wednesday about firing Superintendent Bobby Jenkins. Last month, a judge held Jenkins and chairman Henry Cook in contempt of court and sentenced them to four days in jail. That's on hold while they appeal.

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