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SEB students cancel planned protest
SEB - Lewis Holloway
Dr. Lewis Holloway - photo by Special
    Students at Southeast Bulloch High School planned a protest to be held in the school gymnasium Friday, but out of respect for Principal Joni Walker- Seier, they followed her urging to resist the display of support they planned.
    Bulloch County School Superintendent Dr. Lewis Holloway did not renew Seier’s contract, and students were among a crowd of people at Monday’s called special session of the Bulloch County Board of Education where Holloway made the official announcement that Seier's’ contract was not renewed.
    Amid an outpouring of community support for Seier, including numerous comments made curing Monday’s meeting and letters to board members and Holloway, students at the high school planned a “ sit-in” protest at the gym, to be held at 10 a.m. Friday.
    However, Seier's caught wind of the protest plans and asked students via intercom announcements to abandon their plans.
    The students listened.
    Only students in physical education classes showed up in the school gym Friday.
    “Mrs. Seier's came over the intercom this morning and Wednesday and told us not to do it,” said student Jeremy Webster. “She said it would make it look worse.”
    Several students in the gym spoke high;y of Seier's and said they wished Holloway would listen to the community and renew Seier’s contract.
    They said although  they are angry over his decision not to renew the contract, they respected Seier's’ wishes and decided  to abandon the protest plans.
    “She ( Seier's) said it was more important for our education time,” said Cameron Duncan. “She cares about that ( students’ education” more  than her removal.”
    About 35 students were among about 120 people who attended the  meeting Monday, expecting the issue of Seier's’  contract o go to a vote before school board members. However, after hearing several people speak in favor of Seier's, asking that board members vote to renew her contract, and after going into an executive session, board Chairman David Ball announced that the decision was out of the board’s hands and there would be no vote.
    Georgia law puts the decision into the superintendent’s hands, he said.  School superintendents have power to decide upon non-tenured employees’ contracts, and in Georgia, administration positions do not have tenure.
    Unhappy with the situation, members of the Southeast Bulloch High School Council have launched letters to board members and Holloway alike, and while still reviewing possible ways to persuade Holloway to reinstate Seier, they also sent him a letter asking him to allow council input regarding the hiring of Seier’s replacement.
    In the letter, chairman Thomas Sullivan wrote: “We hereby request to be involved in the selection of any principle hired to fill the open position at Southeast Bulloch High School. This request is made in accordance with Bulloch County Board of Education Policy coded BBFA and printed below in it’s entirety.
    “‘Whenever a vacancy occurs in the position of principal at a school, the superintendent shall consult with the school council as he/she deems appropriate to assist him/her in making a recommendation to the board.  A vacancy occurs in the position of principal when the position is to be filled from applications submitted to the district and not from a reassignment of existing personnel.’
    “We the Southeast Bulloch School Council make this request based on guidance found in the Georgia School Council Law OCGA 20-2-86  (k) (1), (4), (5). Under this statute “the members of the school council … shall: (1) maintain a school wide perspective on issues, (4) act as a link between the school council and the community,  and (5) encourage the participation of parents and others within the school community. Additionally, pursuant to OCGA 20-2-86 (t) which states the role of the school council in the principle selection process shall be determined in policy written by the local Board of Education.
    “We further request that no action be taken by the Bulloch County Board of Education or the Bulloch Co. School Superintendent to fill this position until the Bulloch County Board of Education and Superintendent make provisions to address the involvement of the SEB School Council and provide an answer back to the Council.”
    Holloway said Wednesday he would consider accepting the council’s input when a candidate is selected for the position.
    He said school councils are usually asked what character traits and experience they are looking for in a principal, and said while council members are not involved in the interviews, they usually do visit with the selected candidate after the decision is made.
    “I haven’t thought this out completely,” he said, referring to the council’s letter. “I will look at their requests and see what we can do.”
    Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at 489-9414. 
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