APS Board Member Butler-Burks Not Seeking Reelection
(APN) ATLANTA — Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education Member LaChandra Butler-Burks (District 5) is not running for reelection, Atlanta Progressive News has learned.
“I am not going to run again,” she told APN in an interview.
APN broke the news last year that neither Cecily Harsch-Kinnane, Emmett Johnson, nor Yolanda Johnson would be running for reelection.
“I just think, with everything in life, there needs to be new ideas, new growth, I think that it’s time. What I’ve also learned through this process is I can be just as impactful in helping children whether I’m on or off the Board,” she said.
“I’m not going away from what I love, being an advocate for youth and being sure they’re successful in life, I can still do that work but in a different space,” she said.
“When you’ve worked so hard at something, there’s always a concern as to what happens when you step out of something – but at the same time, I have a very strong district, who are very passionate about education, and very strong about holding elected officials accountable,” she said.
“I’m not concerned about whether my community will choose who’s best. There’s always that fear–it’s my baby–of letting go, but that’s everything in life,” she said.
Butler-Burks was ousted as Chair after the so-called Gang of Five, five board members, changed the rules regarding ousting a Chair, in a move that attracted the concern of AdvancED/SACS CASI, the accrediting agency for APS.
Butler-Burks is aware that she has been vilified by some due to the fact that she served on a Blue Ribbon Commission that did not adequately address cheating that had been going on in connection with student testing at APS.
“Whenever someone attempts to attack your character it’s very frustrating especially when you give it your all, especially when you have the integrity. Of course it’s frustrating. Attacks come with leadership,” she said.
“That’s what I hope a lot of people who are considering running for office will realize, it’s not just about the good things that happen. Once you put yourself in a public light, anything and everything can happen,” she said.
“When you’re not doing good, there aren’t many challenges. But when you’re doing good, challenges come your way that make you strong. I’ve become stronger as a person,” she said.
“In all what people thought would tear me down, I grew from it. When you go through a test, you come out with a testimony,” she said.
“The people who attack you, let the higher powers deal with them. You hold your head up.
Revenge is not an option for me. You let that stuff take care of itself, and it will,” she said.
When asked what she would say to anyone to believes that she was part of a cover-up as part of the Blue Ribbon Commission, she said, “What I know within my heart of hearts is totally different.”
“What I do know, one, whenever there is a subcommittee of the Board established, the Board Chair always serves on the committee as an ad hoc. Right now, Reuben McDaniel is on the Superintendent Search Cmte because he’s the Board Chair,” she said.
“It was [former APS Board Member Khattim El] Khaatim’s idea that I serve on the Cmte, he authored the resolution that I serve on the Blue Ribbon Commission,” she said.
“I didn’t have any more information than anybody else sitting at the table. I feel with the information we had, we moved forward with what we thought was best as it related to the Cmte,” she said.
“Was I part of the cover-up? I’ve never seen a test, been to a testing center,” she said.
“We’re at the point of allowing the justice to serve and see what comes out of that,” she said.
“Some of the cheating scandal pre-dates some of us being on the Board,” she added.
As for the former five-four Board Member split, “I think that’s over,” she said. “I think we’ve worked well as a Board over the last few months.”
With the previous resignation of El, and the announcements of four Board Members that they will not seek reelection, only four incumbent board members who were part of the five-four split will be seeking reelection: Courtney English, McDaniel, Nancy Meister, and Brenda Muhammad.
Of the four running for reelection, only McDaniel will remain of the Gang of Four; and only three–English, Meister, and Muhammad–will remain of the Gang of Five.
Board Member Byron Amos replaced El in a Special Election.
“It’s definitely gonna be a new Board. They’re gonna have to figure out what works.”
Currently, Butler-Burks works for the City of Atlanta in conjunction with the Centers of Hope.
Raynard Johnson, an activist and Twitter-er, is running for the District 5 seat. APN interviewed Johnson earlier today, and will publish the interview in the near future.