Originally created 06/08/06

Hasan challenges voters

If you don't like the job I'm doing, vote me out of office in November, Richmond County school board member A.K. Hasan said Wednesday.

The comment was met with a mix of groans and cheers as he spoke at the Henry Brigham Community Center during a town hall meeting hosted by fellow board members Barbara Pulliam and Joe Scott.

Questions ran the gamut, and the audience's murmuring got louder when A.D. Mason, a candidate for the Augusta Commission's 4th District seat, raised the issue of accountability and why Superintendent Charles Larke's contract should be questioned now when it hasn't been for 10 years.

Board members, including the three at the meeting, have raised a number of questions about the superintendent, his pay and his contract in recent months as Dr. Larke's fate with the board grows murkier with each board meeting.

Dr. Larke attended the Wednesday night meeting and answered questions from the audience, but didn't touch the contract issue when it was raised by Mr. Mason.

"Accountability. Critical," Mr. Mason said outside the packed meeting room.

He said the superintendent is rightly being held accountable by board members, but some on the board have sat silent and approved the contract that is in question. Everyone should be held accountable, Mr. Mason said.

And Mr. Hasan said the board and the superintendent are ultimately accountable to the public.

"The only way I can hear from you is involving you in the process," he told those at the town hall meeting, explaining why he chose to air his concerns in public. The superintendent sat on the other side of the room.

Deidra Waiter, a Richmond County parent, said that's why she went to the meeting -- to get involved. Calls to the board office are never returned, she said.

She was concerned, though, that little may come of the meeting because answers were cut short because of the large turnout at the meeting.

"Why hold a meeting if you're not going to put the time in?" Ms. Waiter said.

The superintendent and his senior staff answered a number of other questions on several issues such as magnet schools, testing and discipline.

It was the second such town hall meeting held by Mrs. Pulliam and Mr. Scott.

The next business meeting of the board will be at 6 p.m. at the board's headquarters, 864 Broad St.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.


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