It’s O. K. To Hoot & Holler If The Clayton School Board Agrees With You! Hmm.
By John R. Alston Trotter, EdD, JD
O. K., haven’t I been telling the Clayton County Board of Education that the Clayco natives are restless? I have been trying to warn this obstinate and proud school board that a tornado was about to hit. You could see it gathering in the skies? Didn’t the Good Master admonish us about not being able to discern impending doom by simply looking toward the skies? Some things are so obvious, except when pride gets in the way. “Let him who thinks he stands, take heed lest he falls.” Another Bible verse. Here’s another off the top of my head: “Pride goeth before a fall and a haughty spirit before destruction.”
Last night, Tornado Clayco hit Fifth Avenue in Jonesboro and blew the top off the Administration Building where the school board meetings are held. It is my understanding from talking to some folk today that the place was packed out. And, the good news for me is that I am not the issue. I had been receiving emails from parents of the Mt. Zion High School and the Mundy’s Mill High School communities, seeking my input and so forth. Thus far, I have not responded…mainly because I know that if I get directly involved in the issues confronting the parents, then there is a likelihood that the issues will be seen as my issues. Or, I will become the issue itself. Therefore, I have reluctantly stayed out of the parents’ issues, hoping that they will take it upon themselves to organize and to galvanize the collective frustrations that they have…and to engage in direct action against Pam Adamson, Alieka Anderson, Ophelia Burroughs, Mary Baker, and Wanda Smith, the main culprits on the school board who are enabling the dysfunctional and egregious behaviors exhibited by the Administration of Superintendent Edmond Heatley.
I didn’t ask Alieka Anderson this question in Spring of 2009 contemptuously but incredulously. After all, Alieka Anderson is a school teacher. What happens to so many people when they get on the school board? Are they drinking some special concoction? Are they drinking EdAid or CaliAid? It is almost like they get caught up into the Superintendent’s Cult and no longer have a mind of their own. Right now, I see four of the nine Clayton County School Board members who are hopeful. Jessie Goree is the bravest board member so far.
Will anyone doubt us now about the wrong decision to hire Edmond Heatley? We at MACE were very pointed in our picket on the night that the Clayton County Board of Education was thinking of hiring Heatley from Chino Valley, California. The media covered our protest in great detail, both on television and in the print media. As usual, people were undoubtedly decrying me, calling me “crazy.” How “crazy ” am I now? I knew that an educational leopard does not change his spots. Heatley was a disaster in Chino Valley, California. Why did Alieka Anderson and Pam Adamson think that he was going to change when he made a four-hour flight to Clayco?
Last night, I understand that Synamon Baldwin, President of the Clayton County Chapter of the NAACP, was kicked out of the auditorium. Ms. Baldwin was speaking to the board. I understand that the allotted time ran out, and Ms. Baldwin perhaps made one or two more statements at the most, and then came the Sheriff Deputies. She was apparently was not just escorted to her seat, but she was escorted completely out of the auditorium where the school board was meeting. What a way to treat your local NAACP leader. I obviously say this facetiously. Who in their right minds take such draconian measures? The Clayton County Board of Education does. I remember in January of 2007 when I was arrested for quietly standing in the back of this same auditorium holding a sign which read thusly: “Ericka Davis’s brother falsely charged Clayton teacher of having sex with him. Hmm.” I put this on this sign to make a point. Ericka Davis, I am confident, knew the point that I was making. I had my friend Norreese Haynes’s back when Ericka Davis and then superintendent Barbara Pulliam apparently made a decision to send out thousands (about 50,000, if I recall correctly) auto-phone calls to parents about the previous school board meeting when Ericka was not able to shut up Mr. Haynes about the awful and now-infamous Riverdale Land Deal that Mr. Haynes was exposing. Mr. Haynes was totally exonerated about this unconscionable land deal. The charges against me were summarily dropped, after I spent about 28 hours in “the hole” in the Clayton County Jail on Tara Boulevard. I suppose they were trying to break me. Victor Hill apologized to me. I accepted his apology and get along fine with Victor to this day. I realize now as I realized then that he had apparently gotten caught up in Ericka Davis‘s and Rod Johnson‘s mess on the school board.
Synamon, I feel for you. I have been there. People with a modicum of power just love to call the sheriff or police when they see their little power slipping away. Force does not make right. The truth makes right, and the truth of the matter is this: Edmond Heatley Must Go. The Clayco Tornado that hit last night is only the beginning. I have been around. When it comes to Clayco School Board politics, I don’t think that there is a person living who knows it better than I do. Just the facts. Oh, yes, Synamon, don’t forget that the school board allows much hootin’ and holler’ when the people are hootin’ and hollerin’ for or against the “right people.” When the audience had a zillion signs with my name on the signs (January 2003) when I was blamed for everything that Nedra Ward & Gang was doing, then the signs and the hollering was O. K. Or, when scads of folks were hootin’ and hollerin’ at the school board meeting in March of 2008, the Clayco Police apparently just looked on placidly. I have seen this with my own eyes. The Jonesboro Police officer, I was told, said about my arrest in January of 2007 that I hadn’t done anything wrong. In fact, when I was in custody in a Sheriff’s patrol car, I overheard one of the Sheriff Deputies say, “He hasn’t done anything wrong.” What I did wrong was speak truth to power. I held up a sign that was full of the truth, and Ericka Davis, the Chair of the school board at the time, apparently couldn’t handle the truth. Didn’t the Good Master also ask, “Which one of the prophets did your forefathers not stone?”?
No, school board, you haven’t seen the last of the uproar from the citizens of Clayton County. The people evidently just don’t like the superintendent whom you brought to town from California. They want him gone. If he isn’t gone by next election, I believe that you will be gone. Elections have a way of leveling the playing field or, to use another Bible metaphor, of making the “crooked paths straight.”
Afterthought: Do you think that the Sheriff’s Department was just trying to earn part of that $1.4 million dollar contract that Edmond Heatley apparently engaged in illegally (without the board’s prior approval) with his Nupe brother, Sheriff Kim Kimbrough? Hmm.