Recent vote against recording school board meetings was a setback for open government


School Board Chairwoman Missy Jarrard

CLEVELAND, Ga. – The White County Board of Education’s 3-2 vote against making a video recording of its meetings and placing it on the school system website, was a setback for open government. It will not have the intended consequences and could easily be reversed in 2019, depending on the outcome of next week’s election.

A recording would have allowed those who, for a variety of reasons, cannot attend the meetings to see how the board operates and how their elected officials are performing, something most elected officials claim to want.

It is worth noting that thanks to Georgia’s Open Meetings and Open Records Act, the school board lacks the authority to prevent a video recording of the meetings from being made and placed on the Internet. It can only prevent placement on the school system website.


To their credit, Chairwoman Missy Jarrard and board member Charlie Bryson cast votes in favor of open government, but they were outvoted by Jon Estes, Charlie Thomas and Barry Vandiver.

Vandiver’s term will end in December thus eliminating one “no” vote. He will be replaced by Jeannette Gearing or Linda Erbele.

FetchYourNews reached out to all the school board candidates to see where they stand on the issue. Erbele did not return our calls.

School Board member Charlie Bryson

Gearing was quick to say she would vote in favor of open government if the issue resurfaces again next year.

“I think it’s a great idea. I try to attend as many meetings as I can, but I have children who participate in a lot of activities so I can’t always be there. I’m sure there are a lot of people just like me who can’t be at all the meetings but would like to keep up with what is going on. So, if I am elected, I will vote to record the meetings and place the video on the school website,” Gearing said.

Bryson said, “Absolutely, I would vote for it again, without a doubt. There is no better way to show transparency than by recording the meetings and placing the video on the website for everyone to see.”

Calls and emails to Bryson’s opponents John Solmon and Carly Adam went unanswered.


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Ransomware, sportsmanship were the hot topics at Tuesday’s school board meeting


CLEVELAND, Ga. — The White County Board of Education devoted much of its time during Tuesday’s meeting to a discussion of the ransomware attack that impacted the school system server two weeks ago and sportsmanship.

The cyber attack was not as devastating as the one that was launched against the city of Atlanta.

School Superintendent Dr. Jeff Wilson said four files containing 11 employee social security numbers were accessed but nothing was downloaded. “I encourage everyone to freeze their credit,” Wilson said. “Its worth the $3 it costs to protect yourself.”

The school system’s total financial loss was the $5,000 deductible paid to the insurance company. Wilson said new procedures are being put into place to protect against future attacks.

The sportsmanship discussion centered on fan behavior. Wilson said there had been several incidents of poor sportsmanship at White County High School games this year, mainly involving parents.

“We are definitely going to start pushing our parents hard,” he said. “We want to be a model for our kids. We all get upset when a kid gets a technical foul on the court while that same kid’s parents may be up in the stands screaming and hollering.”

Wilson said there had been some incidents where fans verbally abused coaches as well. “We’re not going to put up with them being ugly to our coaches either. This season, we’ve had some parents chew on them pretty hard, and we’re not going to have that anymore,” the superintendent explained.

Wilson said the school system has new sportsmanship guidelines that fans will be required to follow. The guidelines will be discussed during weekly meetings with athletes and parents and will be posted publicly at different sports venues.

Several pay-as-you-go items were also discussed and are expected to be voted on at Thursday’s school board meeting, including extra surveillance cameras for schools ($20,000), a viewing station ($3,000), global positioning system (GPS) for buses ($18,154) and a tarp for the White County High School baseball field ($6,000).


Tuesday Board of Education Meeting Rescheduled


Dr. Jeff Wilson

Because of the State of Emergency declared by Governor Deal, we are rescheduling the White County Board of Ecucation meeting from Tuesday, September 12 to Thursday, September 14. The meeting will still be at 7:00 am. There will be a Pay As You Go (PAYG) request and we will discuss personnel in executive.


Second Public Hearing on School Budget is Set for Thursday


CLEVELAND, Ga. – The White County Board of Education will hold the second public hearing on the fiscal year 2018 budget Thursday at 6 p.m.

School officials say they are facing a budget shortfall of $145,515, but that amount can be made up out of the fund balance and no millage increase is expected.

However, the final tax digest numbers from the tax commissioner’s office will not be available until July so school officials have not been able to calculate whether there will be a rollback millage rate. If the school system or county is not willing to rollback the millage rate to be consistent with what the tax commissioner has calculated, it would be deemed a tax increase for the system. A notice of property tax increase would have to be advertised and two more public hearings held.

Board members will also discuss renewal of an agreement with the City of Cleveland and White County Sheriff’s Office to provide school resource officers (SRO) at schools.

Also on the agenda will be a discussion of furlough days to be observed and five-year facilities plan.

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at



Teacher Fired After Sexual Assault Allegation


Leonard Jones

CLEVELAND, Ga. – In a called meeting Tuesday morning, the White County Board of Education officially terminated Leonard Jones, the White County Middle School teacher arrested last week for allegedly having inappropriate contact with a student at the school.

Jones, 54, has been charged with three counts of aggravated child molestation, three counts of sodomy, three counts of sexual assault and three counts of reckless conduct.

Jones was arrested and placed on leave without pay after the White County Sheriff’s Office received a complaint from a parent. Dr. Jeff Wilson, Superintendent of White County Schools, said at the time Jones would never be back in a White County School.

The board went into executive session Tuesday to discuss the issue then emerged and voted unanimously, with Commissioner Charlie Bryson absent, to terminate Jones.

In other action, the Board approved the appointments of Ann Brevard as Special Ed Teacher at White County Middle School and parapros Debbie Pruitt, Shelli Leslie and Tammy Fletter.

The Board also approved a pay as you go request (PAYG) request for renovations in the White County Middle School Special Education and Sensory Room and appointed Ann Brevard as Special Education teacher at the school.




Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at


White County School Board Achieves Quality Board Designation


CLEVELAND, Ga. — The White County Board of Education has been named as a Quality Board by the Georgia School Board Association.

White County is one of only 25 school systems in Georgia to be so designated. The recognition program was developed by Georgia superintendents and is designed to showcase best practices in school governance and leadership. GSBA recognizes good school board governance to foster educational community cultures in order to advance student learning and achievement.

To qualify for the award, school districts must meet certain criteria, including the implementation of a strategic plan, review of the Georgia Vision Public Project, state board annual training requirements and compliance with the standards of all accreditation associations.

Dr. Jeff Wilson said, “The SBA sets regulations and criteria every year and we’re very proud to have met those regulations several times. We also learned last week that we are rated in the top 15 in the CCRPI (College and Career Ready Performance


School Board Bids Farewell to Hunter, Westmoreland


CLEVELAND, Ga. — The White County Board of Commissioners said goodbye to two longtime public servants last night in Chairwoman Kendyl Brock Hunter and Jay Westmoreland who has represented Dist. 4 since 2009. Both will end their terms on Dec. 31.

Hunter, who started her term in office in 2005, was a member of the Georgia State Board Association’s Board Chair Advisory Council and Board Operations Committee. Superintendent Dr. Jeff Wilson thanked both for their service and presented them a plaque in recognition of their contributions to White County’s School System.

Wilson provided an update on the search for a new head football coach for White County High School. He indicated the search committee had interviewed several candidates and expressed the desire to have a new coach on board by no later than February.

The school system has more than $900,000 in its Pay As You Go Account and commissioners voted unanimously to spend about $90,840 for repairs and replacement items for the auditorium, gymnasium, and the bus barn.

The Board also approved the 2017 meeting dates, a request to declare equipment at J.P. Nix Elementary School surplus and authorize disposition and a field trip to Amicalola Falls for J.P. Nix.


School Board Approves Transportation Policy


CLEVELAND, Ga. — The White County Board of Education met last night and approved a transportation policy that prevents school buses from transporting non-students except occasionally when they are visiting the home of a student and then only with permission.
The Board also unanimously approved:
Acceptance of the 21st Century Grant for 2017;
CTAE budget;
First reading of the policy on complaints and grievances;
The bond request for 2016;
Board Goals for 2016-17
Re-certification of Compliance with Standards for Local Boards of Education;
A resolution to authorize investment and
Field trips for White County Middle and High Schools.

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