Sergeant Edmund Heatley:
Clayton County Is A Graveyard For
By Dr. John Trotter
Trotter responds to queries in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about his views on Clayton County's new superintendent, Edmund Heatley.]
What is there
on which to comment? The school board now has what it wanted...a man from California...just as Ericka Davis was insistent in 2004 on going all the way up to Minnesota to bring in Pulliam.
Dr. Sam King, Educator of the Year in Georgia (as chosen by fellow superintendents), a known quantity in Clayton County and
currently doing a super job by all accounts as superintendent in Rockdale County, was available, but the school board, never known for its
wisdom, chose to bring in a person, sight unseen, with two years of experience in the classroom. Dr. Sam King is well-known
for making discipline a top priority in a school system. I remember him when he was an assistant principal at Oliver Elementary School, principal at Forest Park Middle
School, and as he actually worked his way up to Assistant
Superintendent before Rockdale County realized that he was a "steal" and offered him the supetintendency about five years ago. He is
known throughout Georgia as truly one of the brightest and hardest-working superintendents around. But, if
the Clayton County School Board, chooses to go with Sergeant Edmund Heatley,
then so be it. We will see where the school system ends up under his leadership. At MACE, we predicted that the school board
would be sorry that it ever had hirerd Pulliam. In fact, the night that the school board voted on her contract, MACE folk
were picketing the school board. One sign said: "You're gonna be sorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry." Within three years, the same
Ericka Davis was working diligently to get rid of Pulliam.
Both Dr. Sam King and Dr. Valya Lee would have been
better superintendents for Clayton County than Sergeant Edmund Heatley. But, Clayton County has, through the years, been a veritable graveyard for superintendents,
and the school board probably did both of these good educators a favor by not selecting them. I cannot remember a single superintendent
who ever left the Clayton County School System simply because they wanted to
retire. I personally did not know Ed Edmonds, but I knew his nextdoor heighbors and his personal secretary. I am told that
the legislature changed the appointed/elected nature of the superintendency, depending on Mr. Edmonds's popularity at the
time. He preceded Mr. Stroud. I have personally known and interacted with the following Clayton County superintendents: Ernest
Stroud, Joe Lovin, Bob Livingston, Joe Hairston, Dan Colwell, Bill Chavis, Barbara Pulliam, Gloria Duncan, and Valya Lee.
Mr. Stroud "retired," but I am sure that he saw the handwriting on the wall, so to speak.
I wish Dr.
Heatley the best. Right now, Clayton County is dead last in the cellar on SAT and CRCT scores. The discipline has become atrocious
through the years. About Edmund Heatley: I have never met the gentleman nor have I spoken to him on the phone. This, I am
sure, is what qaulified him the most in the eyes of some school board members. (I was told by a sitting school board member
in 2005 that the school board then was going "all over the country," trying to find someone whom I did not know.)
Dr. Heatley, I will not call upon you -- unless your administration violates the law (e.g., refuses to follow the grievance
law, OCGA 20-2-289.5 et seq., the duty-free lunch law for elementary school teachers,
OCGA 20-2-218, etc.). I have bigger eggs to fry.
Clayton County has become, as we say in the MACE Office, the "New Atlanta." Dr. Heatley, you are encountering
the same issues that confronted the old Atlanta, particularly in the 1970s and 1980s. I hope that you will be successful in your endeavors. But,
if you simply try to sweep the dsiciplinary problems under the proverbial rug, your stint in Clayton County will probably be somewhat truncated. (c) MACE, September 1, 2009