The Union Recorder

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July 8, 2013

Nearly half of Atlanta school board will be new

ATLANTA — Major changes are coming to the Atlanta school board after four years of cheating scandals, accreditation struggles and school closings.

With the election approaching Nov. 5, four of the nine incumbents aren't seeking re-election, and three of the five incumbents who are seeking re-election have opposition. More opposition could emerge before the qualifying deadline Aug. 30.

"It could be a big turnover. The upside is that we'll get some new ideas," board Chairman Reuben McDaniel told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (http://bit.ly/12QAA5v ). McDaniel faces three opponents in the non-partisan election.

One of McDaniel's opponents, former board member Mark Riley, said, "It's the most important election in this city in a long time."

Another opponent, attorney Cynthia Briscoe Brown, called the election "a real watershed moment for Atlanta Public Schools," and the other opponent, attorney Tom Tidwell, said it's clear change is needed. "I don't see the current board, including the chairman, providing leadership," he said.

Once the new board is elected, its duties will include addressing lackluster academic performance and naming a new superintendent.

In March, former Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Beverly Hall and 34 other educators were named in a 65-count indictment alleging a conspiracy to cheat in order to bolster student test scores. Hall has pleaded not guilty.

In addition to McDaniel, board incumbents Courtney English and Brenda Muhammad have opposition. Board members Byron Amos and Nancy Meister have no opposition at this point.

Not seeking re-election are LaChandra Butler Burks, Cecily Harsch-Kinnane, Emmett Johnson and Yolanda Johnson. There are two candidates for each vacancy.

Harsch-Kinnane said she's ready to move on after serving two terms, but all Atlanta voters should be paying attention, even if they don't have school-age children.

"The health of the city is tied to it," she said.

The school board election is on the same ballot with the races for Atlanta mayor and City Council.

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