APS investigates board member Reuben McDaniel

APS investigates board member Reuben McDaniel

Archie Kinnane

The APS Ethics Commission investigated Atlanta Board of Education chair Reuben McDaniel for inappropriate involvement in personnel changes at North Atlanta, specifically the nonrenewal of the contract of Amy Durham, an ex-North Atlanta volunteer and teacher, starting Jan. 11.

On Feb. 8, the Commission found McDaniel to have committed no violation.

Durham volunteered in North Atlanta’s College and Career Counseling Center during the 2011-2012 school year. APS offered her a job as a language arts teacher at North Atlanta, tentative to approval by the Atlanta Board of Education.

After her contract was never renewed for contested reasons, Durham resigned because of her lack of job security.

“On Wednesday, Sept. 5, I was informed that the issue of my employment was in fact not presented for action to the board at the August 2012 meeting … and that it would not be presented for action at the September 2012 meeting either,” Durham said in her letter of resignation to interim principal Sid Baker.

Durham said she also learned she had been accused of racial discrimination during her time at the College and Career Counseling Center.

Mark MyGrant, the former North Atlanta principal who supervised Durham, thought the claims of racism against her were ridiculous.

“Nothing could be further from what has been apparent in her work ethics and her practices, both personally and professionally, that I’ve ever viewed,” MyGrant told The Southerner.

According to the Code of Ethics for Members of the Atlanta Board of Education, board members will “not undermine the authority of the local superintendent or intrude into responsibilities that properly belong to the local superintendent or school administration, including such functions as hiring, transferring or dismissing employees.”

McDaniel told The Southerner  he merely acted as a messenger of parents’ concerns.

“Well, basically a bunch of parents came and gave me a lot of information about a lot of things going on at North Atlanta High School, about racial segregation, and I reported it to the administration so they could investigate it,” he said. “I didn’t investigate it; I just gave them the information from the parents.”

McDaniel felt the actions he took were justified.

“If a parent told me there is a bad teacher, I tell the administration there is a bad teacher,” McDaniel said. “If parents tell me there is racial profiling, I talk to the administration and tell them there is racial profiling.”

An open records request filed by The Southerner of McDaniel’s emails from June 2012 to the present revealed no emails from North Atlanta parents or anyone else calling Durham a bad teacher or accusing her of racial profiling.

In an email dated Aug. 18, 2012, which McDaniel was copied on, MyGrant asked interim superintendent Davis why Durham’s contract was “mysteriously removed from the Board Approval Docs last Monday, Aug. 13.”

In response, Davis said he was surprised MyGrant had not been informed of why Durham had been taken off the list.

“I pulled all of the [North Atlanta High School] and [Maynard Jackson High School] hiring to make sure that we have an adequate process for the area [executives] to review the hiring decisions of people who are going to be in their position for 90 days (or less than 45 at this point),” Davis wrote, referring to MyGrant’s imminent departure from North Atlanta.

MyGrant, scheduled to resign at the end of October, was controversially ousted in North Atlanta’s administrative shakeup on Oct. 5.  p

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