First on 3: Muscogee school board member calls for investigation - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Text Description

First on 3: Muscogee school board member calls for investigation

Posted: Updated:
COLUMBUS, Ga. - FIRST ON WRBL NEWS 3: Muscogee County School District Board of Education member Cathy Williams is asking the Georgia state attorney general to investigate the conduct of a 2013 school board meeting, a letter obtained exclusively by WRBL News 3 Tuesday states. In the letter dated January 2, Williams, who currently serves as an "at large member" of the board, calls on the Attorney General Sam Olens to investigate the legality of an executive session called by the school board on February 18, 2013. 

Williams said that executive session was called in order to discuss whether there had been any criminal conduct by State Senator Josh McKoon and local political consultant Frank Myers. Both men are critics of the board's six decade old "no bid contract" relationship with law firm Hatcher Stubbs. Some board members said McKoon and Myers threatened retaliation against them if the relationship with the law firm continued. The GBI found no wrongdoing. Williams said the investigation, she wants, is important to provide a transparent system for the taxpayers. 

"When you use executive privilege what you're doing is excluding the public from the conversation and that should be done on a very limited basis," Williams tells News 3 Wednesday in her first interview since writing the letter.

In the letter, Williams said the executive session may have been improperly called and a vote was inappropriately taken during that time:

"The first order of business of the executive session was for legal counsel present to declare that the legal matter was whether there had been any criminal conduct by Mr. Josh McKoon and Mr. Frank Myers. The attorney present then declared that there was a conflict of interest with the firm and they could not advise us on the issue. During that executive session consensus was reached by a majority of the board to contact [Columbus] Chief of Police Ricky Boren over the allegations that Mr. Josh McKoon and Mr. Frank Myers had threatened one or more board members. A six-month probe by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation followed. The GBI concluded there was no wrongdoing."

Read More: Click Here to read William's entire letter. It will open up as a pdf file.

She goes on to write:

"I am concerned that the February 18th executive session was improperly called, that the discussion was outside the legitimate scope of the executive session, and that the vote was inappropriately taken in executive session, so that, as a result, Georgia civil or criminal law may have been violated."

In the letter, Williams also accuses Board Chairman Rob Varner and then-Superintendent John Phillips of providing false information to the GBI to induce them to intimate an investigation. She does not provide details on how that may have been done.

In a statement released to WRBL News 3 Wednesday, Varner says:

"I have not seen Ms. Williams' recent letter to the Attorney General, which apparently was sent late last week, thus I am only able to react to what I have heard from a media report. With respect to any concern Ms. Williams may have about the Board's compliance with the Open Meetings Act in an executive session last February, I do know that shortly after the meeting in question Ms. Williams raised concerns about whether or not the discussion in executive session was appropriate. I recall Ms. Williams voicing these concerns publicly; possibly at our February meeting. During a private meeting with legal counsel, she requested that they seek another opinion about the propriety of the executive session discussion, by asking for an opinion from the State Attorney General's office.  On March 25th, a 3 page letter was sent from our legal counsel to the Attorney General's office, explaining the situation and seeking an opinion. That was the last I heard about the issue until I was contacted by a media outlet yesterday. I do not believe the Board's executive session discussion last February violated the Open Meetings Act.  Also, I learned for the first time yesterday that Ms. Williams is now accusing me of providing a false report to the investigating officer from the GBI, who investigated concerns about whether or not certain Board members were subjected to inappropriate pressure concerning matters before the Board.  Ms. Williams' suggestion or accusation that I provided false information to the GBI is absolutely incorrect." 

Phillips also denies the allegations.

Myers says he hopes for a fair process if the attorney general's office does look into the matter.

"The same standard be used in this investigation that was used in the bogus investigation that was brought against McKoon and myself and let the chips fall where they may," he says.

The Attorney General's office has received the letter but in an emailed response a spokesperson said they could not comment any further on it.

Phil Scoggins contributed to this report.

Editor's Note: The link to the letter has been updated to provide both page one and two of William's letter. By mistake, the original publication of this article provided only copy of page two. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Naomi Keitt

Naomi Keitt focuses on education reporting for WRBL News 3. More>>

Phil Scoggins

After taking 16-year break from broadcasting, Phil rejoined WRBL as a news anchor where he has been ever since. More>>

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Eufaula Avenue expansion possibility angers residents

    Eufaula Avenue expansion possibility angers residents

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:17 PM EDT2014-04-24 03:17:07 GMT
    Some folks in Eufaula are upset with the Alabama Department of Transportation. They say the state wants to widen the historic Eufaula Avenue, which you might know from the many antebellum homes that line the highway.  
    Some folks in Eufaula are upset with the Alabama Department of Transportation. They say the state wants to widen the historic Eufaula Avenue, which you might know from the many antebellum homes that line the highway.  
  • Russell County deputy arrested for drug trafficking

    Russell County deputy arrested for drug trafficking

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 5:46 PM EDT2014-04-23 21:46:33 GMT

    Deputy Brandon Williams found in possession of synthetic marijuana and steroids, Sheriff Heath Taylor says.

    Deputy Brandon Williams found in possession of synthetic marijuana and steroids, Sheriff Heath Taylor says.

  • April Mugshots

    April Mugshots

    Thursday, April 10 2014 11:54 AM EDT2014-04-10 15:54:25 GMT

    April arrests made in the Upstate and western North Carolina.

    April arrests made in the Upstate and western North Carolina.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Squatters Move Into Soldier's Home and Refuse to Leave

    Squatters Move Into Soldier's Home and Refuse to Leave

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 2:25 PM EDT2014-04-23 18:25:50 GMT
    Alleged SquatterAlleged Squatter
    When soldier Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago, he asked a friend to watch over his New Port Richey house.
    When soldier Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago, he asked a friend to watch over his New Port Richey house.
  • April Mugshots

    April Mugshots

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 2:42 PM EDT2014-04-22 18:42:32 GMT
    Thomas Allen WinstonThomas Allen Winston
    The following are mugshots and charges of individuals arrested between April 1-4 by the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office.
    The following are mugshots and charges of individuals arrested between April 1-4 by the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office.
  • MUGS: 36 Arrests In Greenville Prostitution Sting

    MUGS: 36 Arrests In Greenville Prostitution Sting

    Wednesday, February 26 2014 12:58 PM EST2014-02-26 17:58:17 GMT
    The Greenville County Sheriff's Office, along with 26 other agencies throughout 15 states, participated in the event during National Day of Johns Arrest.The Greenville County Sheriff's Office, along with 26 other agencies throughout 15 states, participated in the event during National Day of Johns Arrest.
    The Greenville County Sheriff's Office, along with 26 other agencies throughout 15 states, participated in the event during National Day of Johns Arrest.
    The Greenville County Sheriff's Office, along with 26 other agencies throughout 15 states, participated in the event during National Day of Johns Arrest.
Powered by WorldNow

1430 East Victory Drive
Savannah, GA 31404

Telephone: 912.651.0300
Fax: 912.651.0320
Email: newsemailalert@wsav.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.