Walker County parents fed up with school issues, want to publicly address board
WALKER COUNTY, Ga. (WDEF) – “We went five years without an air conditioner in our gymnasium and we talked to the Superintendent the whole time about why we can’t get the air conditioner replaced or fixed, the latest is the freezer in the cafeteria,” Fairyland Elementary School Parent Buddy Presley said.
It’s these kinds of issues Fairyland Elementary School parents wanted to address with the Walker County School Board at the school board meeting Monday night.
“We don’t have a public participation policy. So, while they’re in session, in a quorum, they can’t operate outside of that policy. That’s why they left. This is a day-to-day operational issue that has nothing to do with policy. So they’re not going to address something that doesn’t deal with policy,” Walker County Superintendent Damon Raines said.
So a group of parents expressed their concerns without the board and with Superintendent.
“Because these have been ongoing issues and because Fairyland is continually having to fight for representation in the county even though they represent a huge majority of the taxes paid into the system that there are other thing at play that need to be solved,” Fairyland Elementary School Parent Brett Odom said.
“The larger issue here beyond the cafeteria issue at Fairyland is that parents are not given any avenue to speak or address the board,” Odom said.
A few years back, Walker County Association President Jim Barrett brought litigation against Walker County Schools over their policy for public participation and said it violated the First Amendment.
“At every level the district was found in violation unanimously by the federal courts and so we settled in 2018 in June of this year. Months later we still don’t have a policy in place and we should,” Barrett said.
Raines said a public participation policy is being worked on.
One he said that won’t be challenged in court as unconstitutional.
“It’s very simple. We need transparency. We need to know what’s happening in the school system, where the money is being spent. I understand that everybody wants the dollar. There’s not enough dollars going around, but if there was transparency in this system, nobody would be mad,” Presley said.