Delk, English Defiant in Response to APS Ethics Investigation
(APN) ATLANTA — Atlanta Public Schools Board Member Courtney English was defiant in the face of an APS Ethics Commission investigation regarding his apparently defrauding the public, according to documents filed by English’s attorney, Glenn Delk, obtained by Atlanta Progressive News.
As previously reported by APN, Delk represented English in his first ethics case before the Commission, which involved his misuse of an APS credit card. Delk is also a pro-privatization Buckhead attorney who has been working with State Rep. Ed Lindsey to craft parent trigger legislation which would make it easier to turn APS schools into charter schools.
English apparently defrauded the public when issuing a July 2010 press release through Alisias group stating that it was only his first time misusing the credit card, even though it was later revealed in the AdvancED/SACS CASI report that it was his second time doing so.
Previously, the Ethics Commission opened an investigation into English misleading the public, and then decided to hire an independent hearing officer and move forward with a hearing. The complaint was filed by Kim Kahwach.
The Commission requested information from English on February 04, 2011, specifically, “any information of any type related to the above described complaint that should be considered by the Commission during the investigation of the above referenced matter.” The Commission also requested information from Kahwach and from the Atlanta Progressive News, which was provided.
The Commission is expected to hold a hearing and issue a recommendation in the matter by late March 2011.
“Our position is quite simple – the Second Complaint is barred by the doctrines of double jeopardy, res judicata, and collateral estoppel,” Delk wrote in English’s February 14, 2011, response.
However, it is not clear whether double jeopardy applies here seeing as how the Ethics Commission is not a criminal court.
Even if it did apply, English’s previous ethics complaint dealt with the misuse of the credit card, not with defrauding the public.
The Ethics Commission already discussed the issue of double jeopardy before voting whether to open an investigation into the latest English matter. Chairperson Susan Pease Langford had argued that the Commission had the ability to look into the fraud issue while investigating the misuse of the credit card during the first complaint, but they chose not to. Still, the Commission voted to investigate the second complaint and hold a hearing anyway.
According to a copy of the transcript from the hearing of Mr. English’s first ethics complaint, Langford presented the case against English to the Commission via four stipulated facts that all parties agreed to, including English, represented by Delk.
It is not immediately clear why Langford chose not to include several facts, for example, that it was not his first time misusing the credit card, or that he misled APS officials regarding who made the charges.
Langford also said during the hearing that although the Commission had considered bringing English up on violating two sections of the ethics code, that based on the four stipulated facts [but not the ones that were excluded from the record], there was only enough evidence to support violation of one section.
During the previous hearing, Delk insisted that Langford state on record that this concluded the entire case against English, and she responded that it concluded the entire matter.
However, the case and the matter that was concluded had to do with English’s misuse of the credit card. Even though the Commission could have chosen to take the investigation in a new direction and did not, that does not mean this is the second time the Commission is considering the issue of defrauding the public.
“The Commission must dismiss the Second Complaint immediately and require Ms. Kawach [sic] to publicly apologize to Mr. English and reimburse him for his legal expenses since we believe the Second Complaint is nothing more than another attempt to take political control of the Board by forcing Mr. English to resign,” Delk wrote.
In his two page response, English, by way of Delk, does not respond to the substantive allegations of fraud against him, except for writing, “Ms. Kawach’s [sic] letter of January 24, 2011, is libelous and completely lacking any factual support.”
It is unclear how Kahwach’s letter is completely lacking in factual support, when Kahwach was merely citing English’s own press release and pointing out that it was deceptive.
Instead, English’s response talks about how English was part of a Board majority which replaced the APS Chair and Vice Chair; how the other four Board Members, the minority, sued the five; and how all nine entered into a consent decree agreeing that the board takeover by the five was not illegal.
English’s response talks about how “during the litigation, a concerted effort was made to pressure Mr. English and his four colleagues. Several leading foundations wrote the members of the ABE, threatening to withhold funding if the Board did not rescind its vote. Mark Elgart, the chairman of SACS, also wrote a letter threatening APS accreditation if the vote were not rescinded.”
English’s response continues, “I [Delk] and the majority of the Board thought the Goger Consent Order would end the political battle for control of the Board. Unfortunately, we were mistaken. On January 18, 2011, Mr. Elgart and SACS issued a report… which reignited the controversy… which indicates that, despite the clear meaning of Judge Goger’s Consent Order, Mr. Elgart and SACS believe themselves to be above the law and that they, not Judge Goger, are the final authority on Georgia law.”
“The Second Complaint filed by Ms. Kawach [sic] is nothing more than a continuation of the effort to rescind the impact of Judge Goger’s Consent Order,” English’s reponse states.
(END / 2011)