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Petition seeks recall of BoE member Bob Todd

The last time a recall effort was initiated in Fayette County it was County Commissioner Robert Horgan in the crosshairs. This month, another such effort has begun to recall Fayette County Board of Education member Bob Todd.

Tyrone resident Melissa Hill is heading the recall effort, citing ethics violations as the reason for her action. Though the recall effort is specifically aimed at Todd, Hill said she would prefer the recall effort to extend to nearly all school board members.

Hill alleges that Todd violated a model ethics code and standards set by the Georgia Department of Education by criticizing school Superintendent Jeff Bearden’s leadership and by telling some unnamed “citizens” that Bearden would be fired when a new board majority takes office in January.

“Dr. Bob Todd is being recalled for failing to adhere to the (Ga. Dept. of Education) Standards for Effective Governance of School Systems, as set forth by the Georgia Department of Education. Dr. Todd, in a letter to the editor of The Citizen newspaper published July 24, 2012, publicly criticized the leadership and fiscal governance of Dr. Jeff Bearden,” Hill said in a statement submitted to The Citizen.

“In addition, Dr. Todd privately told citizens that Dr. Bearden would be terminated after the upcoming election, when Dr. Barry Marchman takes office and when Terri Smith is defeated by her opponent. In doing so, Todd violated the following sections of the Local Board of Education Model Code of Ethics, in which each board member agrees he or she will: (1) Not undermine the authority of the local superintendent or intrude into responsibilities that properly belong to the superintendent [Domain III, no. 5]. (3) Take no action that will compromise the board or school system administration. [Conduct of Board Member, no. 4]. Dr. Todd’s actions have contributed to the current dysfunctional state of affairs of the Fayette County Board of Education as well as to the termination of Dr. Bearden, costing taxpayers approximately $200,000 for Dr. Bearden’s termination package,” Hill said.

Contacted Tuesday about the pending recall effort, Todd said he preferred to withhold comment until he has received verification from the elections office, though he agreed to offer an initial comment on the issue.

“As an elected member of the Fayette County Board of Education, I have a fiduciary responsibility to all the citizens of this county to see that we have a balanced budget that is fiscally sound and to operate the school system at maximum efficiency. I intend to continue to fulfill those responsibilities until someone tells me that is not my top priority,” Todd said.

Hill insisted that her intent to recall Todd has nothing to do with Todd’s recent call to look at the potential closure of elementary schools in Tyrone and Brooks as a part of the school system’s identified need to trim up to $20 million from next school year’s budget.

As for recalls, there is more to the story than Hill’s attempt to recall Todd. If she had her way, nearly all the school board members would be recalled. The one exception is Chairman Leonard Presberg, Hill said.

As for her reasons, Hill said she is upset with Todd and board members Marion Key, Terri Smith and Janet Smola for the way the recent mutual termination agreement with Superintendent Jeff Bearden was handled. Bearden in the agreement was given a year’s salary and benefits totaling approximately $200,000 without an explanation of why the agreement was reached, Hill said. It seemed as if they were hiding something, Hill added.

And though she would like to initiate recall efforts against Smola, Key and Smith, Hill said that to recall Smola is not relevant since she will be leaving office in December. As for Key, Hill cited state law saying that recall efforts cannot be initiated 180 days before the end of a term or after the beginning of a term. Key’s new term begins in January. Hill said after the initial 180 days she might start a recall effort against Key.

And as for Smith, Hill said she would wait for the outcome of the Nov. 6 election where Smith will face challenger Mary Kay Bacallao.

The recall of an elected official in Georgia is a three-step process, the first of which is to apply for a recall petition, to name a chairperson, cite a reason for the recall efforts and provide the signatures of 100 people who were registered to vote in the preceding election.

Fayette County Elections Supervisor Tom Sawyer confirmed that the application and required number of signatures was received by his office. Sawyer at press time was in process of verifying the signatures.

Recall efforts in Georgia must fall under at least one of five categories. Hill cited misconduct in office — an unlawful act committed willfully or a willful violation of the state’s code of ethics for government service.

If the application is found sufficient by the elections office, the recall petition can go forward and will require the signatures of 30 percent of the active voters registered and eligible to vote in the preceding election. In Fayette County, that number will require more than 21,000 signatures. Those signatures must be obtained within 45 days of the time the petition was issued. If found sufficient, it will trigger a recall election.

State law provides a process for elected officials to essentially challenge the reasons stated in the recall application. If this is done, Todd would petition the Fayette County Superior Court to review the sufficiency of the grounds for recall and the facts asserted in support of the grounds for recall. If taken to Superior Court for such a review, the process of obtaining recall signatures would be put on hold until the court completes its work.

If the grounds for the recall are found sufficient, the recall proceedings will continue. If ruled insufficient by the court, a discretionary appeal can be filed with the Georgia Supreme Court by the recall supporters.



Pogo's picture

I totally support Ms Hill's initiative. We have a dysfunctional school board and need to wipe the slate clean. Closing schools and redistricting is always controversial but Dr Todd's actions have made a difficult problem much worse. His philosophy appears to be "Why upset just a few when we can upset everyone?" Terminating Dr Bearden's contract after just extending it without an explanation to the public is also problematic as is the generous termination package considering the financial problems the school system faces. The state needs to add "stupidity" as a recall category.

Newsboy's picture

Wasn't the vote to "mutually terminate" Bearden's contract 4-1 with Marion Key the lone holdout? That blows the theory that only a newly elected board would get rid of him.

Pogo's picture

I do know the meaning of both words. They may have started out as "cantankerous" but in my opinion the board has become dysfunctional. I don't expect a 5-0 vote on every issue neither do I expect the board to put the entire system into upheaval.

NUK_1's picture

Smith, smola, Key and Todd all voted to accept the termination agreement. Gee, I am sure it's just a coincidence that this citizen Hill wants all the BOE gone except for Presberg.

Actually, contrary to your insinuation and in defense of Mr. Presberg who I consider a friend because I took the time to reach out and meet him, spend time getting to know him when some were trying to lynch him for not revealing his religious beliefs, he has been traveling from school to school, meeting with PTOs and making himself accessible to parents which has resulted in a tremendous response from parents who appreciate his efforts and willingness to reach out.

And for his protection, I have advised a few things to avoid nasty comments on the blogs

1-hire a financial planner in the school system
2-prepare a 5 year plan
3-publish and post all budgets in detail
4-more detail on ESplost expenditures
5-board meetings agendas published 3 to 4 days in advance and executive committee meeting held prior to not at the end of board meetings
6-and most important, votes done in executive meetings are made public with stated reasons so some members don't go out and then lie about their vote and position.

Meanwhile, leave the conspiracy theories to others.
Thank you

Jeez Larry, c'mon--between one-time faith & the voting booth, you two have a lot in common, so no wonder you support him. I find it hard to gather much respect for someone who would vote for himself when choosing the Chair for the BOE.


Now that's stupid.
Most people don't vote by religious or straight party lines!

Note you had problems deciding which derogatory terms to use but I also note you didn't deny my statement or the accuracy of the rationale for your support. Just for the record, I don't give a big rat's rear WHO you support!

Your statement is not only inaccurate but totally ignorant.
My rationale, I clearly stated before. Presberg is highly intelligent, non political when it comes to his responsiblities as a member of FCBOE. He does his job and well, getting out and meeting with schools, PTOs, teachers, administrators and families.

Who gives a crap that he is either Jewish or a Democrat. Only time its come up is in your stupid comment, a photo of him in The Citizen pointing out that "a Democrat supporting Hollowell a Republican" and a stupid comment made by Steve Brown on this blog about being a Democrat.Of course there was the The Citizen/Barlow Salem style warlock hunt. That meeting felt like the 1960s all over again.

Actually surprised you said it but I guess you can say anything under an assumed name.

Anyway, this is about the children, not religion or politics!

Now where have I heard that that before----yes, all about the children--one of the typical liberal mantras. No problem, knock yourself out--for another 2 1/2 months! For my part, the Wounded Warrior Project is more important---my children are MY responsibility like your children are yours.

Your comments have nothing to do with the children or the schools, just below the surface prejudices!

Explain to me an mine, why WE have to pay for You and Yours,,
In 1972 my folks moved here from North Carolina, and started paying School Taxes, even though my folks were told I could NOT be enrolled until I could speak and understand English, Woodward however was more than happy to have me attend,,, In 1976 Fayette County was still happy to charge my folks for "Government School" education yet I was STILL not "allowed" to attend as my "records" would not transfer,,, In 1982 I graduated a FULL two years early, WITH a Ga approved High School Diploma, Auburn accepted my 1580 SAT score (1600 was perfect at the time) all the while my folks paid for the neighbors kids to attend Fayette and McIntosh,,, as they did until my dad reached age 65 in 1993,,, Tell me PLEASE for the love of God how HE "benefited" by paying TWICE for "school", and now PLEASE follow up by explaining to me how I benefit from paying for my neighbors kids to go to a school they DO NOT want to attend,,,,,,

If a person procreates THAT LIFE is THAT person(s) responsibility, the nano-second that "child" is shared with the community,, the 'Parent" IS irrelevant, AND redundant ........

Veritas's picture

Wheeew eteeheeh hehe OMG.. Thanks Larry I needed that;-)

NUK_1's picture

Read the complaint. Hill specifically states as one of the reasons she thinks Todd should be recalled is because he helped cause the termination of Bearden. The other 3 that voted the same way Hill would like recalled or removed also. The only one not on her hit list? Hmmmm...the only one who voted to not accept the deal to get rid of Bearden! Sure it's just a "coincidence" and Hill isn't a total Beardenite and also really means it when she says it has nothing to do with the schools that may be closed. Right.

Since you have answers, quick way to resolve this....

You call SACS headquarters or the parent holding company AdvancED.
Get person on the phone responsible for governance.

Send them Dr. Todd's Letter to The Editor of July 24 and watch how fast they slap the board.

Do it!

Only reason why no one has so far is because of the impact it would have on Fayette County and the schools.

Come on, Do it and let's see whose right.

NUK_1's picture

I clearly stated that the reasons behind this recall petition were:

1) Todd helped in the ouster of Bearden. Hill also wanted the rest except for Presberg gone for the same reason and Presberg was the only one who didn't vote to accept the deal to get rid of Bearden.

2) That the petition WAS in fact motivated by Todd wanting to close the Tyrone school.

You called this "conspiracy theories."

Ms. Hill has since posted online right here that in fact both of those reasons are indeed the motivation to get Todd recalled. When are facts "conspiracy theories?"

I would like to know the reasoning behind Dr. Todd's allreasonsorcing the supt resignation. I am sure we will never get the real story. I woul like to know more about his alledged overstepping of boundaries spoken about in the past.

Asking for a recall due to his favoring the closing of a school is not sufficient for a recall. I feel for the residents of Tyrone potential loss of their community school. But the county has to make some drastic cuts and this school is on the chopping block for obvious reasons. I don't want to sound cold, but we can't always get why we want. The kids will move to a new school along with all the other kids from their neighborhood. They will make new friends and be good as new. It's the parents fears and inconvenience.

Why don't we all try to get by next year on 75% of your normal pay. I would bet a majority would be in foreclosure. That's what's happening with the schools due to our BOE not making cuts over the last few years.

People, all our kids are going to suffer because we chose people afraid to make the tough decisions for fear of losing their money, status, ect.. We need leaders and parents to put the facts above political agendas and save our school from state oversight.

My apologies

Newsboy's picture

You don't know the meaning of the word. The Clayton County school board is dysfunctional. Fayette County's is simply cantankerous, in a healthy sort of way. Do you really want five people who always get along and vote 5-0 on everything the superintendent brings them? Besides, word on the street is that Bearden expressed concern to the board about the district being in decline and they in turn lost faith in his leadership. They did him a favor letting him resign rather than be fired.

If he does these things and in too public a way, then it seems a more indepth inquiry may be in order.

Fayette County just wants qulaity representation that for soem reason seems so hard to find.


If he does these things and in too public a way, then it seems a more indepth inquiry may be in order.

Fayette County just wants qulaity representation that for soem reason seems so hard to find.


If he does these things and in too public a way, then it seems a more indepth inquiry may be in order.

Fayette County just wants qulaity representation that for soem reason seems so hard to find.


If he does these things and in too public a way, then it seems a more indepth inquiry may be in order.

Fayette County just wants qulaity representation that for soem reason seems so hard to find.


If he does these things and in too public a way, then it seems a more indepth inquiry may be in order.

Fayette County just wants qulaity representation that for soem reason seems so hard to find.


If he does these things and in too public a way, then it seems a more indepth inquiry may be in order.

Fayette County just wants qulaity representation that for soem reason seems so hard to find.


If he does these things and in too public a way, then it seems a more indepth inquiry may be in order.

Fayette County just wants qulaity representation that for soem reason seems so hard to find.


If he does these things and in too public a way, then it seems a more indepth inquiry may be in order.

Fayette County just wants qulaity representation that for soem reason seems so hard to find.


I don't know how this can proceed with without the unnamed "citizens" being identified. Unless these people come forward or are identified, then the earlier post is correct, and this is middle school politics.

Without these people stepping forward or identified. This is just rumors.

I don't think Ms Hill is playing middle school politics.

She and the 100+ names on the petition are most likely sending a clear message to this Board and future Boards that rules and regulations pertaining to governance and ethics must be followed as per the State of Georgia and SACS.

Only Dr. Todd knows if the allegations are true or false and not trying to judge anyone here, I want to be clear about that!

I am pleased to see a citizen's group who are also stakeholders, without any political affilation are standing up, and becoming active. I hope that they remain active by attending every board meeting with a clear understanding of the issues and rules of engagement per the state and SACS.

Bottom line, its about the children!

I do believe we need need a BOE that functions better. However, I don't believe "unnamed" citizens will make any governing body think twice about throwing this out. Sounds to me like a bunch of political Yentas with an axe to grind.

My personal belief is that the board needed a fall person to take the heat off the board and Dr. Bearden was the obvious choice. We have board members that have put blinders on so as not to see the pink elephant in the room and cow tailed to the public the past few years instead of making cuts over time. Now it's hitting the fan and (very) hard decisions must be made. People will not be happy, but we have to make them. We need someone to tell it to the public straight, even with the backlash. Tiptoeing around is not going to solve this problem.

Unless the Yentas who were allegedly in on Dr. Todd's conversation come forth, I am still calling this a political game an a detriment to our schools.

Are you kidding? These are the same people who are yelling, "Don’t close my school" and who waved signs for a failed candidate. They have plenty of political affiliations.

ginga1414's picture

I have a pretty good idea who those "unnamed citizens" happen to be. Husband is correct. If they want to be given any amount of credibility, the "unnamed citizens" need to be step forward with their identification.

It seems that Superintendent Bearden applied for the same position in Floyd County two weeks before the mutual agreement of separation in Fayette County.

Also, I would like to point out that Bearden was represented by his attorney. The grapevine told me the terms of the mutual agreement were solidified through arbitration.

Anyway, Bearden has given an interview to a Floyd County newspaper. In that interview, he gives details as to why he wants to be the superintendent of the Floyd County school system

I would assume from reading the Floyd County article that the same reasons Bearden gave for wanting to work for the Floyd County School System are the same reasons he no longer wants to work for the Fayette School System

Pogo, if School Board member Terri Smith is defeated in November, the slate will be wiped clean. Todd and Key were always voted down by the other three board members. Therefore, Todd and Key's votes never counted. There are five members of the Fayette County Board of Education, but the Board was controlled by three votes. Those three votes are essentially responsible for the financial mess facing our school system.

Pogo's picture

When I say "wiped clean," I mean everyone currently on the BOE.


Will we be without a superintendent after December? Are we interviewing? Has an interim been identified?

What's even funnier is that he wasn't even elected by the citizens...he was appointed.

Ok, let me set the record straight. NUK_1, Leonard Presberg is not on the "hit list" because of many reasons. After all the immediate criticism he endured after he was appointed, he still puts himself out there every day. He comes to the forums and PTO meetings, speaks openly with parents, and will respond to your emails. He has taken the heat for the whole Board of Education while Todd and Key sit in the back of the room quietly, if they show up to these meetings at all. Presberg really cares about the kids...and yes, he had the guts to vote against Dr. Bearden's package. You would know all this if you ever went to the meetings. Also, when Ben Nelms interviewed me for this article, I told him Todd's decision to close Tyrone Elementary was in fact part of the reason I wanted to start the recall, but there were many other reasons as well. Mr. Nelms wrote a very fair article, but got that part wrong when he said it had nothing to do with my decision.
Husband and Father, you are right that some of the ethics violations would be more credible if these unnamed sources would step forward. These people are pretty high up in the school system and are in fear of losing their jobs. After some of the things that have happened to me during this journey, I can see why they are afraid and I do not blame them.
Finally, Mole I am not in any group. I did this recall petition on my own. The only sign waving that I did was for the Mayor of Tyrone and Town Council elections. There is nothing political about this, it is about fighting for what is right.


Robert W. Morgan's picture

If you read my post about the 4 groups of people in he county - 3 of whom don't really care about the BOE, I think you will conclude that 21,000 signatures are going to be difficult. Especially when the target is a man who is most certainly not guilty of the Smith/Smola "build it and they will come" projects.

Targeting someone over the closing of a small outdated elementary school (and your other reasons) probably won't change the attitudes of the 2 holdovers or the 2 newly elected board members since their attitude is so correctly defined as they have a broken and shrinking school system that needs fixing and, well, shrinking. That means closing schools and we all know that you can't win any popularity contests in that game. Now we have the superintendent channeling Bobby Petrino, begging the question - is Janet Smola Michael Vick? I know she loves dogs, so the analogy is somewhat weak, but Bearden's behind the scenes stuff is far more disgusting than anything Bob Todd has done.

The good news in all this is that we have Todd and Key who seem to on the right page when it comes to shrinking and closing schools, the new newly elected certainly are on the right page and when a new super is interviewed and eventually hired it will be with the clear understanding that he (or she) is expected to be cost-cutter and school closer - and the new super won't have any qualms about shrinking the central office or getting rid of asst. principals and some teachers.

Live free or die!

The last major recall effort was for a county commissioner, who recently lost by a pretty wide margin. We can assume that he was fairly unpopular with the electorate, and a recall was still a hard sell. Dr. Todd is not unpopular, and this recall smells like it is more political than need based. This is probably going to fall pretty short. Time will tell.

NUK_1's picture

In GA, it is, and I agree. It becomes democracy run amok otherwise if someone who is dutifully elected can be chunked out of office suddenly without having committed some evil deed(s). In this case, I don't see it. I didn't see it in Horgan's case either(misdemeanor?Really? Recall someone over that?), though I can understand the crusade some went on to get him recalled a lot better than this dust-up with Todd.

You know what beats the hell out of recalls, term limits, ethics violations,etc? Simply voting them out of office! Nothing complicated and little effort required. Sorry if the electorate is sometimes willfully ignorant, sometimes hopelessly stupid and generally apathetic, but it beats legislating around that and trying to game the system after the fact.

Veritas's picture


suggarfoot's picture

I feel I know Dr Todd well and have always respected the fact that he stuck in there and took the abuse of the 3/2 vote all those years for the kids.

I know him and his wife, and I've never heard him say such a thing. Maybe I'm out of the loop, but I feel he has always been honest with me.

I do feel Beardon came in and did very little to stop the flow of money out. Maybe he was horrified and felt he bit off more than he could chew by comming here. He does state
that he finds the other counties books more to his liking (as in not too much effort to look good) Kind of weird Beardon shows up with a lawyer don't you think?

If Todd and Key are quiet at the meetings it might be because they have been held hostage by many many 3/2 votes of Wright, Smith, and Smola that got us to this point. It is a train wreck they have seen in the making and helpless to do anything about. I remember a year or so ago when Dr Todd went to the papers and spoke about how out of whack everything was. Smola and Smith tried to file charges against him then for speaking out against them. I would say if anyone has really given it their best shot to save the schools, it has been Dr Todd.

I respect him for not jumping ship and staying to pick up the pieces of the mess created by the block vote.

I know it is hard to watch enighborhood schools closed. I believe in small elem schools for the wee ones. I was very upset when Rivers was built and the enrollment was going down. I told everyone, Rivers would be the death of Tyrone Elm....and so it has.
Please don't blame Dr Todd for the end results of the 3/2 block vote.

Rivers and other schools, as well as the bypass, were built for developers. Their dream went bust but unfortunate for us, their dream, and our kids future, along with our tax dollars, were attached. They were highjacked.

ginga1414's picture

Thanks so much, suggarfoot, for an extremely thoughtful comment.

Dr. Todd and Marion Key have been "held hostage by the many, many 3/2 votes." In fact, the entire county has been held hostage, manipulated, and betrayed by BOE and BOC officials on a POWER TRIP.

Believe me, if anyone knows about that POWER TRIP, I do. When I got too close to the truth concerning the connection between the West Fayetteville Bypass and Rivers School, threatening messages were left in my email box by some of those folks and their cronies!

Dr. Todd and Marion Key haven't jumped ship. They are still there fighting for the solvency of our school system and taking the hateful "slings and arrows of outrageous" individuals.

Mr. Sussberg, the "bottom line" absolutely is not "about the children!" It has never been about the children! It has always been about the "POLITICAL POWER TRIP" of eight county officials.

Some County officials (both BOE and BOC) have promised different entities that their interests would be met in order to obtain votes, more political power, and career advancement. When those promises have been revealed or have come close to being revealed to the public, the "POLITICAL POWER TRIP" folks had to start dancing a little faster. They had to up the rhetoric. And, they had to solicit the help of a few well placed citizens by making promises to them.

No, Mr. Sussberg, it has never been about the children!

The prospect of having to close any schools in Fayette County is due to a greed for power, mismanagement of that power and a national economic power grab.

Isn't it surprising how much hurt a few county officials on a "POLITICAL POWER TRIP" can cause to a population the size of Fayette County?

Misused power of any kind is a very sad, sad thing when children's lives are affected!!!

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