Constituent policy

School board approves Hooker as superintendent runner-up, rejects ‘divisive concepts’ policy

The Clarke County School Board approved Robbie Hooker as the sole runner-up for superintendent at its Aug. 11 meeting and rejected a complaint policy related to the state’s controversial new “divisional concepts” law.

Hooker, a longtime Clarke County school district teacher and administrator who currently leads the Social Circle school system, is expected to take over from retired superintendent Xernona Thomas in October, pending a final vote in “a few weeks,” said Board Chairman LaKeisha Gantt. .

While Hooker was wildly popular during his tenures as principal of Burney-Harris-Lyons Middle School and Clarke Central High School, and many residents praised his hiring, Gantt responded to concerns that the board had acted without great opportunity for public participation.

“In many ways, we sometimes wish there were more public aspects to the process, and we remain open to any concerns voters may have. Please feel free to contact us,” Gantt said. “But I want to reiterate that the board took this seriously, and the process of finding a temporary and a permanent [superintendent] just lined up at the same time. I want the public to be assured that there will be opportunities for community stakeholders, diverse communities and populations, to meet not only the council, but also Dr. Hooker.

The vote was 7-0, with Linda Davis absent. New member Heidi Hensley recused herself because she had not been involved in the research process before taking office on August 8, although she said she had researched and supported Hooker.

Additionally, the council unanimously rejected a state-mandated policy to receive complaints related to the new “Dividing Concepts” law, which limits how educators can teach about race. For example, the Republican-backed Culture War Act prohibits teaching that the United States is a fundamentally racist country or that white people should feel guilty for the racist actions of white people in the past. The law requires local school districts to establish a complaints procedure. However, the local school board chose not to.

Board members did not give a reason ahead of the vote, but several said in an earlier meeting that they oppose the law and do not want to comply with it.

“It’s performative, and it doesn’t move the needle, especially when school districts address disparities between black students and students of color in achievement and discipline,” Gantt said.