Superintendent Dr. Frank Petruzielo received a letter Aug. 1 from the Cherokee County School District’s accrediting organization, AdvancED/SACS, requiring the district to respond to allegations made by Post 1 School Board Member Kelly Marlow in her June 11 complaint.
In a letter dated Aug. 1, Mark Elgart, president of AdvancED, said, “The nature of these complaints suggests that the Cherokee County School District may not be adhering to Accreditation Standard 2: Governance and Leadership, ‘The system operates under governance and leadership that promote and support student performance and system effectiveness.’”
Specifically, Elgart said Marlow’s complaint has brought into question whether the school district is meeting goals in the following requirements: The governing policy establishes policies and supports practices that ensure effective administration of the system and its schools; the governing body operates responsibly and functions effectively; and leadership and staff at all levels of the system foster a culture consistent with the system’s purpose and direction.
“After review of your response, we will determine what actions, if any, need to be taken including the possibility that a review team may be appointed to review the Cherokee County School District,” Elgart said.
Petruzielo said the letter from SACS was expected, as it is protocol in such cases. The superintendent said he plans to reply within the allotted 30 days.
In a memorandum issued Aug. 2, Petruzielo said that each school board member, in addition to those identified in the complaint, is invited to provide him no later than Aug. 9 with any observations, responses or comments.
Petruzielo said he will include those responses verbatim with his reply.
Marlow herself is under scrutiny, as the school board voted unanimously to hold an ethics hearing regarding her actions in moving as an individual to file a complaint against the school board. At press time, a hearing date had not been set, but it may not be held until 30 days after July 24, when it was approved.
In the complaint to AdvancED/SACS, which Marlow filed personally without input from other school board members, she accuses the Cherokee County Board of Education as being “no longer able to effectively govern the school system.”
In the complaint, Marlow complains School Board Chair Janet Read routinely violates board policy and state law maintaining a personal friendship with the school district director of communications and that Petruzielo is allowed by Read to insult people. She claims a surprise agenda item was added at one of the meetings; that Read allows the public and professional staff to intimidate board members and that board members have not been provided some information.
She supports her claims with several “exhibits” she has attached to the complaint which she feels are examples of her claims.
Marlow’s letter to SACS came on the heels of the revelation of three complaints the school district received regarding Marlow.
Those complaints charge that Marlow overstepped her bounds as a board member by becoming involved in district operations as opposed to policy-making, and acted alone instead of having her statements reflect the position of the board as a whole, as required by Georgia School Board Association policy.
Marlow passed out copies of the SACS complaint June 13 to fellow board members. After the meeting, she was involved in an incident where she corroborated Cherokee Republican Party Secretary Barbara Knowles’ complaint to Canton Police that Petruzielo had tried to strike them with his car as they were crossing the street, headed to the Painted Pig Tavern.
After an investigation, Knowles, Marlow and Robert Trim were charged by Canton Police with felony making false statements. Knowles also was charged with filing a false report.
All three turned themselves in to the Cherokee County Adult Detention Center and were released on bond. The criminal cases are pending in Cherokee County Superior Court.