APS Ethics Panel: Evidence Mr. English Not Truthful with Public
(APN) ATLANTA — The Ethics Commission of Atlanta Public Schools announced its initial findings in the ethics case involving Atlanta Board of Education Member Courtney English’s deceptive statements to the public, according to a copy of the letter to Mr. English dated March 01, 2011, obtained by Atlanta Progressive News.
“The Ethics Commission of the Atlanta Independent School System (the “APS”) has determined that there is good and sufficient cause for a determination that you violated the Ethics provisions of the APS Charter as alleged in the complaint filed by Ms. Kim Kawach [sic] on January 24, 2011,” Ethics Commission Chair Susan Pease Langford wrote.
“Specifically you are charged with having violated the APS Charter as set forth below: Article III, Section 3-108, Code of ethics oath, subpart (4), which requires members to ‘observe local, state, and federal laws, policies, rules, and regulations,’ by allegedly failing to adhere to the Board Policy Manual setting forth the Statement of Values, specifically, the requirement to commit to communicating openly and honestly with stakeholders,” Langford wrote.
“The Ethics Commission will conduct a hearing on the apparent violation of Section 3-108 of the APS Charter on Wednesday, March 30, 2011, at 7:00 pm,” the letter states.
“The Ethics Commission has established policies and procedures pursuant to Section 3-106(b)(5) of the APS Charter for the hearing. Pursuant to these policies and procedures you and other witnesses will be allowed to present sworn testimony regarding this matter. Please be advised that the Ethics Commission will restrict the presentation of any and all evidence to matters tending to prove or disprove the violation of the specific sections set forth above. A copy of the policies and procedures adopted by the Ethics Commission for this hearing will be sent to you,” the letter states.
Therefore, the Commission has found there is evidence to charge English with not being honest with, or in other words, deceiving, stakeholders.
In his response to the Commission’s initial request for information from English, through his attorney Glenn Delk he did not respond to the allegation of fraud by Kahwach. Delk argued that the current case is double jeopardy because English was already sanctioned for misusing an APS credit card; however, the present allegations are separate, that he misled his constituents regarding his misuse of said credit card.
Apparently, the Commission was unmoved by Delk and English’s argument, as the case is going forward.
However, Kahwach told APN that she is not satisfied with English being charged under 3-108. She is baffled as to why the Commission is charging him with a lesser charge, when she specifically cited fraud under 3-106(g)(1).
Fraud, under the charter, would have to result in a recommendation that English be removed from the Board, per the charter. However, no specific sanction is prescribed by the charter for a violation under 3-108.
Kahwach sent a letter to Langford earlier today, March 05, addressing her concerns.
“Upon receipt of your letter to Courtney English, dated, March 1, 2011, per Dr. Grant’s ofﬁce, I have some concerns that hopefully you can address… The charge that you erroneously reference in this letter is APS Charter, Article III, Section 3-108, Code of Ethics Oath, subpart (4), and was never sited [sic] in my complaint,” Kahwach wrote.
“This is a general commitment that board members take an oath to, ‘Observe local, state, and federal laws, policies, rules, and regulations,'” Kahwach wrote.
“The complaint I submitted on January 24, 2011, the same complaint you reference in your letter to Mr. English, alleges that Mr. English violated APS Charter Section 3-106 g. (1) Violation of local, state, and federal laws, policies, rules, and regulations regarding fraud and fraudulent activities,” Kahwach wrote.
“The accusation of fraud is serious. The person making the accusation, as well as the person defending the accusation, do not take the matter lightly. It is recognized in Federal Courts and State Courts on many levels and, in many cases, found to be a criminal act. Therefore, if this commission has decided to omit the ‘fraudulent activities’ from this complaint without reason or transparency then the very act of omission will be called into question along with the charges currently on the table,” Kahwach wrote.
It is not immediately clear why the Commission would charge English with not communicating openly and honestly with stakeholders, but not fraud.
However, the Commission’s actions in this case, under the leadership of Langford, mirror the Commission’s actions under her leadership in the previous case involving English in the APS credit card.
In the previous case, English was alleged to have violated two sections of the charter; however, for reasons that are unclear, Langford only presented certain evidence to the Commission at the hearing and said that this evidence only warranted English being found guilty of one section of the ethics code but not another. This again allowed English to avoid a mandatory recommendation of dismissal from the Board.
Meanwhile, APS parent Janet Kishbaugh has filed a second ethics complaint in recent days involving the conflict of interest between Board Members and the Alisias PR firm.
Previously, she had filed a complaint against Board Chairman Khaatim El. The new complaint makes the same allegations against Courtney English, Yolanda Johnson, and Nancy Meister, who also received pro bono services from Alisias while considering Alisias for a contract with APS.
Incidentally, the deceptive press release at issue in the Courtney English deception case, was distributed and likely also crafted by Alisias.
(END / 2011)