06/13/2013 – Opening Statements

Dr Speaks [:44]
Good morning honorable Judge Wood. Thank you for the opportunity to proceed in the process as I petition to regain the District 8 seat on the DeKalb Board of Education. After reading and rereading the SACS report which set the stage for the suspension of 6 DeKalb board members, it is obvious to me a very broad brush was used to paint a negative picture of the entire board, citing a decline in student achievement, school board governance problems and financial mismanagement. Unfortunately and unfairly, in my opinion, I became part of that canvas.
As a life time resident of this great republic, I was taught that our justice system affords and individual innocence until guild is proven. And, the specifically accused has the right to face the accuser and prepare a defense against any allegations made. To date, that has not occurred. I have not been told what transgressions I, Pamela Speaks, committed. Yet, I was pronounced guilty and suspended from the DeKalb Board of Education. I ask, where is my due process?
I am humiliated, frustrated, and angry with the predicament I find myself in. After 25 years of dedicated service to the children of DeKalb and over 30 years as an educator, I retired in 2004. I left the school district with a successful professional record and an untarnished reputation. To give back to the school district, I thought it was good for me and my ??? children, I ran for the district 8 seat only to be disgraced with an unwarranted suspension. As my late father always reminded me, family means everything and your actions must protect the family name. This suspension has stained my character, my reputation, and my family name.
After much thought, I have no new miraculous insight to offer as a new reformed board member if I were to regain my seat. On the contrary, I will continue to be a voice of reason. I will continue to ask questions in an appropriate way to the appropriate individuals to ensure that I have an informed … I am an informed board member ready to conduct any business at hand. I will not just go along to get along forgetting that every vote I cast influences the lives of the students at the school district. As has always been the case, I will respect and maintain my role as a DeKalb Board of Education member never crossing the line into the role or responsibilities of a DeKalb Superintendent and administration. As always, I am committed to working as a team member to right the wrongs outlined in the AdvancED special review team report. I am unequivocally committed to serving all the children in the DeKalb school district. This is why my continued service on the DeKalb County Board of Education, to which I was elected, is more likely than not to improve the ability of the DeKalb School District to retain, in what I think has been forgotten, maintain its accreditation.
You honor, please remember the voters spoke in 2009 and again in 2012 and elected me to the District 8 seat to assume all responsibilities of a school board member including maintaining the districts accreditation status. They should be the ones to either recall my seat or not re-elect me should I chose to run in 2014.
Thank You
Mr. Willard [4:22]
I’ll briefly summarize what brought us to this point today. As your honor is aware, under OCGA 20-2-73 once an accrediting agency places a system on accredited probation it triggers a potential suspension of the entire board of education. Because the general assembly has recognized that the dire consequences of the loss of accreditation are so severe that they need the state board of education and the governor to determine whether or not the existing board or a new replacement board is in a better position to come off of that accredited probation to retain full accreditation going forward. In this instance, you’ve already had 2 hearing in front of the state board of education. They recommended to the governor that he remove the 6 eligible board members who were holding over at the time when SACS placed the board and school system on accredited probation. At this point in time, it is up to Dr. Speaks to show this court that reappointing her in place of the replacement board member is more likely to help the system to retain full accreditation. We believe that both the evidence that has already been submitted at the state board of education level as well as the evidence that we will submit today demonstrate that Dr. Speaks will not be able to sustain that burden going forward.
That’s all I have for an opening. I also want to point out to the court that we have reached a joint stipulation regarding certain documents with Dr. Speaks. I’d like to tender that joint stipulation at this point in time. I think Dr. Speaks and our office will retain the actual documents until the close of the hearing in case we need to refer to them during an examination.

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