The board imposed sanctions on Ms. Marlow and voted that a part of the cost of the hearing —$3,600 — be deducted from the money she gets monthly for serving on the board.
However, hitting her in her wallet does not ensure that Ms. Marlow’s conduct will change.
Perhaps the most telling statement about how Ms. Marlow found herself in this predicament is something she said at one of her first BOE meetings, “I’m not sure what my role is anymore.”
Unless the role of a member of the Board of Education is to create chaos that detracts the board’s attention away from anything remotely relative to providing the best education for Cherokee County’s children, Ms. Marlow truly does not understand her role.
Her lack of understanding of school policies was evident when she told Superintendent Frank Petruzielo he needed to make a motion and vote on it.
It was then explained to Ms. Marlow that the school superintendent is not allowed to make a motion or vote.
Surely Ms. Marlow has a copy of the board’s policies and procedures. Admittedly, it is lengthy and not exciting reading. However, anyone who serves on any board is expected to do their homework and learn the rules.
Ms. Marlow has said she campaigned on shining a light onto the finances of the system and that is what she has attempted to do.
All board members are given copies of the school system budget.
Everyone has access to it on the school system website.
The entire budget, with exhibits, etc., is not just a few pages long. Explaining what the plans are for spending about one-half or a billion dollars takes lots of space.
A humongous budget is not something most people want to spend their time reading.
However, members of the board have the responsibility of overseeing the budget and insuring funds are spent as they were approved.
Unless someone trained in finance is on the board, most board members do not have the expertise or time to do this entirely on their own. There is a department of finance to assist them. Plus, a team of auditors comes to the system, does an extensive review and reports to the board their findings.
Although Ms. Marlow questions the appropriate use of taxpayer funds, it appears she does not understand the budget. She has not identified anything inappropriate or illegal.
It appears Ms. Marlow came on the school board with a “something is rotten in Denmark” attitude.
Regretfully, instead of voicing her concerns in a constructive way, she came out of the gate with unsubstantiated innuendoes and accusations.
Is the problem that Kelly Marlow came on the board of education with her personal agenda including removing school Superintendent Frank Petruzielo from his position and firing other targeted personnel in the central office? If so, she is far away from success.
One of my questions is, why does Ms. Marlow stay on the board?
She has been embarrassed, insulted, belittled and even arrested on a felony charge of lying to the police. She and two others claimed Dr. Petruzielo attempted to run over them after a contentious board meeting. It is reported that security cameras caught the incident on tape.
Ms. Marlow has been described as a puppet of a few close supporters and is doing and saying exactly what she is told. Is it because she would be disappointing her supporters that she will not step down?
Personally, I wonder if it is because of the money she would forfeit if she resigned. Members of the Cherokee County Board of Education receive $600 per month for their service or $7,200 each year. Since they are elected to serve for four years, they will have received $28,800 when their term ends.
Especially during this economy, that is a lot of money to walk away from.
So, where are we now?
The board’s slapping Ms. Marlow on the wrist and getting into her wallet does not ensure Ms. Marlow’s conduct will change.
Most likely she will appeal the results from the hearing to the state Board of Education.
But for those wanting to unseat her, the results of the hearing are ammunition.
It may be used to strengthen a petition to Gov. Nathan Deal asking that he remove her from office.
The results can also be used by SCRAM! — Smart Citizens Rally Against Marlow — as they canvass Kelly Marlow’s voting district seeking voters’ signatures for a recall.
While the results of the BOE hearing have no bearing on it, Kelly Marlow has a bigger problem. It is the felony charge against her that is heading toward the grand jury.
Marguerite Cline is the former mayor of Waleska.