In an Aug. 20 email, Marlow requested that the board set limits for their cost of an attorney, court reporter and hearing officer, for the hearing regarding her June complaint letter to AdvancED and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Marlow joined the board in a unanimous vote July 24 to hold the code of ethics violation hearing to determine if Marlow violated school board ethics policy by sending a complaint letter to AdvancED, the agency in charge of school accreditation, alleging that the district was in violation of AdvancED standards and/or policies.
On Aug. 19, AdvancED sent a letter to the Cherokee County superintendent, stating that the agency found “Cherokee County School District is not in violation of AdvancED Accreditation Standards and/or policies.”
In her Aug. 20 email to Board Chair Janet Read, Marlow requested that four items be added to the board’s Thursday meeting agenda, three of which dealt with her own code of ethics violation hearing cost and called for caps on the financial impact of the “Chairman’s Special Called Hearing.”
“It’s not really the chairman’s hearing,” Read said Tuesday. “It’s the board’s hearing since it was a 7-0 vote to hold it.”
Marlow requested that the board cap the cost for an attorney at $500, a court reporter at $250 and a hearing officer at $250, totaling $1,000.
“I’m just not sure how realistic those caps are,” Read said. “But Ms. Marlow’s certainly welcome to bring those before the board and then the board can just decide what the next course of action will be.”
Cherokee School District spokeswoman Barbara Jacoby said in August when the board voted to hold the hearing, they voted for School Board Attorney Tom Roach to represent the board, and for a court reporter and hearing officer to be hired.
Jacoby said at that time the estimated cost for a court reporter was $400 to $600, and the estimated cost for a hearing officer was $500.
Since Roach would not charge the district for preparation time, the cost of hearing time for the attorney would be “a couple hundred dollars.”
On Tuesday, Jacoby said the fees for the School Board Attorney and a hearing officer had been set.
“Hearing officer Hugh Dorsey has been hired at a rate of $300 an hour; the school board attorney stated his fee will be $150 an hour,” Jacoby said Tuesday. “The school board attorney has a pending offer for a court reporter.”
On Aug. 15, Marlow’s requested that her attorney cost be covered by the Board of Education was denied by a 2-5 vote, with Marlow and Board member Michael Geist in favor of the expense.
Marlow’s fourth agenda request for this week’s meeting was to place an item on the agenda to “call for a review of debt service plan and bond rating downgrade.”
In her email to Read, Marlow stated, “it is hereby requested that the current administration provide a report on the current bonded indebtedness and the complete payment plan to retire such debt for public review and discussion by the Board of Education.”
On Tuesday, Jacoby commented on Marlow’s requested agenda item to discuss the district’s bond rating and indebtedness.
“The School Board has previously discussed its Moody’s rating, which remains outstanding and was not downgraded this year, and has heard comments on the issue at recent meetings from both the public and from the School District’s bond underwriter and financial adviser. The bonded indebtedness retirement plan, which is to use Education SPLOST revenue to retire the debt incurred by the past 15 years of school and facility construction, renovation and technology costs, is part of the Education SPLOST renewal referendum language and is outlined in every annual budget,” Jacoby said. “If the public chooses not to renew the Education SPLOST in the future prior to the debt being retired, the property tax millage rate for debt service, currently at 0.40 mills, will be increased by an estimated 4.0 mills to continue payments to retire the debt.”
Marlow also requested that copies of any report from Moody’s or S&P debt services regarding the downgrade be available for public distribution at the meeting.
Marlow could not be reached for comment by press time.
The School Board will meet Thursday at 7 p.m. in the historic Canton High School Board Auditorium.