CANTON, Ga. -- The Cherokee County School Board voted unanimously Wednesday night to investigate one of the school board members, Kelly Marlow, on ethics complaints. Marlow, herself, voted with the others in favor of the investigation, which would include a hearing at a later date.
Marlow, a Tea Party activist, has been clashing with other school board members, and with the superintendent, since she took office at the beginning of the year. She has clashed with them over the budget and other matters, she has accused board members of being corrupt, and she has accused the superintendent of trying to run over her and two others with his car following one of the contentious school board meetings. Everyone has denied her accusations, and earlier this month Canton police charged Marlow and her two associates with filing a false report against the superintendent, which is a felony.
At Wednesday night's school board meeting, attended by nearly one-thousand people, hundreds of them were wearing yellow "SCRAM" T-shirts (Smart Citizens Rally Against Marlow) in solidarity, and they cheered when the school board members decided to hold the ethics violations hearing against Marlow.
Marlow raised her hand "aye" with the others, and did not comment, as if she's hoping the hearing will clear her name.
The last straw for members of the board was when Marlow wrote a scathing letter to the accrediting agency, SACS/AdvancED, accusing others of corruption and calling for an investigation into whether the school system should lose its accreditation.
The way she went to SACS is one of the several ethics violations Marlow has committed, according to School Board Chair Janet Read.
Parents urged the board to investigate Marlow and censure her.
"This board member will not resign," said one parent at the meeting, "this board member will not do what she must. So you must do it for her. Please, I implore you to please move forward with an ethics hearing."
"I do not like that you are jeopardizing my future" by putting the school system's accreditation at risk, said a student, a rising Sophomore at Woodstock High School, Taylor Poole, addressing Marlow.
"I expect you to be positive role models," Taylor said to board members. "Recent behavior by some board members is not acceptable. Arrests are not convictions, but are cause for concern, and an embarrassment to our system. I ask those of you responsible for the current situation to reflect upon your actions and to resign for the good of all students."
But others who addressed the board, describing themselves as Tea Party supporters, defended Marlow, saying she's only trying to get answers to budget questions and other issues, and she shaking up the status quo.
"If she's run off, the Tea Party will elect someone else," said one of the pro-Marlow speakers, "maybe a number of someone else's."
No date was set to hear the ethics complaints against Marlow.
Ultimately, according to the school board attorney, there may be nothing the other board members can do to Marlow if they find her guilty and sanction her, except maybe suspend her board pay.