Sen. Jones asks Deal to intervene in superintendent contract withdrawal

State Sen. Emanuel Jones

MCDONOUGH — A Henry County state senator has asked Gov. Nathan Deal to intervene in the Board of Education decision to withdraw a contract offer made to superintendent candidate Timothy Gadson.

In a letter to the governor sent July 14 and co-signed by state Reps. Pam Stephenson, Sandra Scott and Demetrius Douglas, Sen. Emanuel Jones calls on the governor to address the “governance issues surrounding the school board.” Jones claims that when Gadson was announced as the sole finalist for the superintendent position, “certain members of the community became enraged because Dr. Timothy Gadson was an African American.”

Jones goes on to state that he believes school board attorney Buddy Welch is at the center of the “governance issues,” claiming that Welch felt his authority was challenged by Gadson’s candidacy.

“The school board’s attorney has been selectively hand picking superintendents as evidence (sic) by all of the candidates that have occupied that position,” wrote Jones.

Jones also claims that Welch was not willing to “actively negotiate” a contract with Gadson, and that the attorney “overstepped his authority and acted inappropriately in accordance with the state constitution as it relates to school board governance and good faith negotiations.”

Welch did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

The school board voted 3-2 last Monday to rescind the contract offer, citing excessive compensation demands received in Gadson’s counter offer.

In a statement released by Henry County Schools, Board Chair Pam Nutt said “the contract demands of Dr. Gadson far exceeded what has been traditionally extended to previous superintendents by way of salary and compensation packages.”

According to documents acquired by the Herald through an Open Records Act request, the total package offered to Gadson by the Board of Education, which included the superintendent’s annual base salary and benefits, was $444,512.33. Gadson’s counter offer totaled $999,443.47, including a base salary of $275,000 with an additional $27,500 in contributions to a qualified tax-sheltered annuity plan, bringing the annual salary to $302,500. Gadson also requested an auto allowance, technology allowance, temporary housing allowance, moving expenses, and 24 days of vacation.

Jones said Monday afternoon he has not yet heard back from the governor, but he hopes to set up a meeting for Tuesday afternoon. He also said he would like to meet with the Board of Education members; however, he said the three board members who voted to rescind the contract — Nutt, Holly Cobb and Josh Hinton — have been “hesitant to respond.”

Meanwhile, Jones said Gadson remains interested in the superintendent position.

“He is very interested; he’s willing to negotiate,” said Jones.

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