To Citizens of Savannah-Chatham County:
It was with deep regret that I witnessed the Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education vote unanimously to accept the resignation of COL John O'Sullivan. This was a negotiated "resignation" on the part of board members who are incapable of understanding or who simply do not care of the far reaching negative effects this action will have on our schools and our students. Personal agendas on the part of all of the board members have completely replaced logical reasoning. This was not simply a conflict of "strong personalities" as reported in the newspaper. Several of the board members possess strong personalities as does COL O'Sullivan. The tension arose from a conflict of character and commitment to this school system. These are the virtues that John O'Sullivan has an abundance of and that which board members seem to lack. COL O'Sullivan's apparent strong resolve to do the best for teachers and students in this district while keeping the board members at arm's length and requiring they abide by school board policy and the law was just more that school board members could endure. In fact, COL O'Sullivan was perhaps the only person standing between the board members and the loss of accreditation. This fact will soon unfold. As many people know, the SACS investigation revealed only the "tip of the iceberg". O'Sullivan was the only person I knew of who was actively working to bring about the required changes so that our system's accreditation could be reinstated.
As a long time employee of the Savannah-Chatham County Schools as a teacher and school administrator, I have lost complete faith in all of our board members to oversee and make logical decisions that affect the education of children in this district. They continue down a path of denial and self-edification while our school facilities are falling apart before our eyes, and students are paying a high price for the lack of education they are receiving due to bureaucratic tampering. E-SPLOST???? I doubt it. This school board does not have the fiscal responsibility or decision making skill to handle such a large sum of taxpayer money. Fortunately, I do not have to serve in this system; I do so by choice. Unfortunately many of our students have no other choice and must remain in this school system. I pray for them.
As a community we need to call for the resignation of all school board members. They have been the source of great harm and embarrassment to this school system which shall take years to repair. In some cases, board members have sat idle, allowing others to jeopardize the integrity of this school system through their actions in violation of SACS standards, board policy as well as ethical requirements of their office. "Silence implies consent". While knowing some board members were placing the accreditation and future of this district in jeopardy, other board members did nothing...and they could have.
At the writing of this statement, I have just completed a letter to SACS, reporting the events that have recently occurred in this district as well as a letter to the Georgia Department of Education. As retired teacher Sadie Brown stated at the last board meeting, "It is time for this community to take back our school system." I fully agree but reclaiming this school district will take effort and will be in the hands of the entire community. My letter to the Georgia Department Board of Education is a request for an investigation of this school board, as well as assistance, and possible intervention until such time as the current school board members resign and a new board can be elected...and COL O'Sullivan is reinstated as Superintendent. This event will take more than my voice alone. I urge all residents, taxpayers, parents, teachers, and students to take up pen and paper and write to (or call) the Georgia Department of Education. It can not happen without you and time is everything to our students and teachers.
As a footnote, to the board member who advised me at the end of Wednesday's meeting that "you need to learn to keep your mouth shut", I can only say that when I signed a contract to work for the Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools I did not give up my right to free speech, (1st Amendment to the US Constitution). Maybe a high school level course in American Government would be of value to you. Indeed, I look forward to further conversation with you on this topic.
May God Save Our Schools.
Gary W. Lackey
High School Principal
Savannah-Chatham County Citizen
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