MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) -- Attorneys Jason Downey and Lester Miller are asking the current Bibb School Board to let them in the room when discussing extending Dr. Romain Dallemand's contract as school district superintendent.
Downey and Miller were elected to the school board in November, but they won't officially be in their positions until January, when their terms begin.
In a letter addressed to Dallemand and current school board members, the two ask for a decision on a contract extension be delayed and voted on by the new school board, which is set to take office in January. The letter goes on to say, if that request is denied, to include the incoming board members in the discussion on the terms of a new contract.
41NBC requested an interview with Jason Downey and Lester Miller, but Downey says they would rather wait to comment on what specifics they want discussed after the Board has acknowledged their request. So far, they say, the Board of Education has not responded to the letter.
41NBC spoke with Board Member Susan Sipe, who says Downey and Miller should be included in considering Dallemand's contract extension, saying she addressed this very issue in her campaign for re-election. She also told us at least one board member expressed concern that the new members-elect should not be included in the process, since they were not on the board since Dallemand has served as superintendent.
Board Member Tom Hudson would not comment on the letter, saying commenting now would be "unethical."
Here's the text of the letter:
Dear Dr. Dallemand, Chairman Barnes and Current Members of the Board of Education for Bibb County,
This letter is written to you in our capacities as Members-Elect of the Board of Education. We take our commitment to this position and the constituents we were elected to serve seriously and are eager to begin our service to the students and community of Bibb County. At the outset, let us thank you for your service and express our willingness to work together for the betterment of our children.
We understand from public reports that the current Board of Education is negotiating a contract with Dr. Romain Dallemand to continue in his capacity as Superintendent beyond his existing contract. We further understand that the stated reasoning behind the existing Board's desire to extend the Superintendent's contract is due to the fact that the existing Board has conducted his evaluation and is, in theory, more knowledgeable regarding his service to the District. This concerns us as Board Members-Elect.
Pursuant to Bibb County School District Policy BBBB, it is the Superintendent and his administrative staff's duty to orient us as new members to "the Board's functions, policies, procedures and operation of the school system before we take office." Further, pursuant to Board Policy BBBB, we understand that Board policy requires that we "shall be invited to attend Board meetings and to participate in its discussions prior to our actual induction."
We hereby request that the existing Board defer on any decision regarding an extension to Dr. Dallemand's contract until after the three new Board members take office in January. Any concern regarding our understanding or knowledge of the Superintendent's service can be alleviated by full compliance with Board Policy BBBB as stated above. As the new Board will have to implement the Contract, it is only right that we be allowed the opportunity to vote on the contract's terms and adoption. There have been two meetings since we were elected to office: the first a regular meeting on November 15, 2012, and the second a called meeting for November 26, 2012. We were not invited to participate in these meetings.
Second, if this Board rejects our express and stated desire and instead proceeds with a vote on the contract ahead of our taking office, we respectfully request that we be involved in the discussions regarding the terms of that contract before a vote is actually taken. This is required by Board Policy BBBB, which again requires that new Board members be invited to Board meetings and to participate in discussions. It makes sense that new Board members be allowed to participate in these discussions since the current "lame duck" board will not be the composition of the board who will work with the Superintendent under his proposed new contract extension.
In addition to the above, we request the opportunity to review the contract that the Board will vote on ahead of the vote actually being taken. The Open Meetings Act requires that votes be taken in public and we see no reason why the specific terms which are the subject of the vote should not be made public before the vote is actually taken. Additionally, while we do not believe that such formality is needed, at a minimum, please accept this request as one made under the Georgia Open Records Act; the Georgia Open Meetings Act; and Board Policy BBBB. As you know, the Open Records Act requires a response immediately, but in no case more than three days after the request. Therefore, in accordance with Georgia law, please provide us with this documentation or specifically state the statutory exception to such document being provided to us and being subject to public review before the Board vote as requested in this letter.
We regret the formality and necessity of this letter. However, in light of the serious issues at stake and the impact such decisions have on the future of this District and the children we serve, we are left with no other choice but to ensure that our rights and our constituents' rights are preserved. We remain eager and willing to work collectively with you in this service.
This 30th day of November, 2012.
Very Truly Yours,
Jason E. Downey Lester M. Miller
Bibb County Board of Education Members-Elect
CC: Patrick Millsaps, Andrea L. Jolliffe, Randy Howard