GCPS Board Meeting Summary for July 12, 2007

The following are highlights of the July 12, 2007, meeting of the Gwinnett County Board of Education. The official minutes of the meeting will be approved by the Board at its next monthly meeting.

Board recognizes students and staff members
-- This year, 14 students graduated from Gwinnett County Public Schools having not missed a day of school during their academic careers. All of these students have been invited to attend a School Board meeting to be formally recognized for this outstanding achievement. Honored at tonight's meeting were Samuel Amadasun of Norcross HS, Alicia Caldwell of South Gwinnett HS, Destinee Faulk of Shiloh HS, Zachary Puckett of North Gwinnett HS, and Vanessa Singh of Collins Hill HS. In honoring these students, the school system also honored the students' families, commending them for their support of their students.

--School Board members recognized a number of students and teachers as Atlanta Toyota Scholarship Program honorees. This scholarship program, which began in 2004, seeks to recognize one outstanding senior from each Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) high school. The winning seniors select the Gwinnett teacher who most inspired them during their education. Each winning student received a scholarship check in the amount of $2,000. In addition, each winning teacher receives a check for $1,000 to use without stipulation as a "thank you" from the community for a job well done. Over the years, Atlanta Toyota has donated more than $200,000 to Gwinnett students and teachers through this program. Adam Berman, president and general manager of Atlanta Toyota, addressed the Board and recognized this year's recipients.

Kathleen Harazin, Berkmar HS; Most Inspiring Teacher--Laura Baldree, Art, Berkmar HS
Kristyn Saroff
, Brookwood HS; Most Inspiring Teacher--Michael Coulter, Math, Brookwood HS
Samuel Whitehead
, Central Gwinnett HS; Most Inspiring Teacher--Dr. Evelyn Grant, History, Central Gwinnett HS
Sonia Golemme
, Collins Hill HS; Most Inspiring Teacher--Brian Segool, 5th Grade, Rock Springs ES
Amber Hoge
, Dacula HS; Most Inspiring Teacher--Brad Williams, Literature, Dacula HS
Steven Lau
, Duluth HS; Most Inspiring Teacher--Mary Anne Meeks, English, Duluth HS
Andrea Hartlage
, Grayson HS; Most Inspiring Teacher--Greg Field, Math, Grayson HS
Shrila Mazumder
, Meadowcreek HS; Most Inspiring Teacher--Barbara Larkin, Counselor, Meadowcreek HS
Alex Knight
, Mill Creek HS; Most Inspiring Teacher--Greg Marr, Science, Mill Creek HS
Jamie Lisenby
, Norcross HS; Most Inspiring Teacher--Judith Shaklee, Spanish, Norcross HS
Christine An
, North Gwinnett HS; Most Inspiring Teacher--Patrick Yaggy, Latin, North Gwinnett HS
Linda Liu
, Parkview HS; Most Inspiring Teacher--Molly McAuliffe, History, Parkview HS
Lauren Refinetti
, Peachtree Ridge HS; Most Inspiring Teacher--Sarah Skinner, Language Arts, Peachtree Ridge HS
Nirzari Patel
, Shiloh HS; Most Inspiring Teacher--Barbara Keeney, Math, Shiloh HS
Abigail Reynolds
, South Gwinnett HS; Most Inspiring Teacher--Susan Healey, Science, South Gwinnett HS

--School Board members continued their honoring of principals recognized by the state as High Performance Principals. Attending this month's meeting were Kathy Jones, principal of Camp Creek ES and Dr. LaVern Watkins, principal of Norcross ES (moving to another district for 2007-08). Principals honored last month include Lynne Davis, principal of Trickum MS (retired in June); Michelle Farmer, principal of R.D. Head ES; Jane Stegall, principal of Brookwood HS (retired in June); Cindy Antrim, principal of McKendree ES; Jonathan Patterson, principal of Norcross HS (recognized for his previous leadership at Alton C. Crews MS); and Jean Loethen-Payne, principal of Peachtree ES (recognized for her previous leadership at Gwin Oaks ES). Governor Sonny Perdue and State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox previously announced the names of individuals who were identified as "High-Performance Principals," as defined by Senate Bill 468, which was passed and funded during the 2006 General Assembly. This grant program is designed to encourage those recognized to become principals in secondary "Needs Improvement" schools, but it also serves as an opportunity to recognize and honor the individual and collective achievements of these high-performing educators.

Gwinnett County Board of Education takes no further action on charter school application
While acknowledging the work and determination of the Ivy Preparatory Academy's organizers, as well as their vision of promoting high academic achievement among the school's target population, CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks recommended that the Gwinnett County Board of Education take no further action on the Ivy Preparatory Academy's revised charter application. The group's initial application was denied by the School Board at its June meeting as it did not comply with rules and provisions of the charter school law. In response to the Board's action last month, Ivy Prep organizers submitted revisions to address concerns outlined by the school system. These responses adequately addressed several, but not all, of the questions and concerns raised by system staff.
A primary concern still remains that the opening of a single-gender school for female students would foster a discriminatory situation for males as there is no equal experience available for them in Gwinnett's public schools. Mr. Wilbanks stated that he believes there are very real legal concerns regarding this issue and that approval of this charter petition would put the school system at risk of litigation. Constitutionally, all Gwinnett students are entitled to equal protection. To exclude one gender from the benefits of an educational program, without "exceedingly persuasive justification" for that discrimination, denies the other gender equal protection.

Board approves Policy BAA-- Board's Theory of Action for Student Achievement
-- The Gwinnett County Board of Education approved Policy BAA- Board's Theory of Action for Student Achievement, which had been tabled since the Board's February 8 meeting. This new policy articulates the Board of Education's theory of action for improving student achievement and implementing its core beliefs and commitments about teaching and learning.

Board receives report on GSBA summer conference and delegate assembly
District III Representative Dr. Mary Kay Murphy represented the Gwinnett County Board of Education at the Georgia School Boards Association Summer Conference and Delegate Assembly in June 2007. She briefed the other Board members on the conference and actions taken by the Delegate Assembly.

Citizens addressing the Board
-- Brooke Burnes, The Clean Air Campaign
-- Jennifer Falk
-- Nina Gilbert
-- Andrew Lewis
-- Rory Johnson
-- Tena Atkinson
-- Aqueelah Brun
-- Mary Duhart
-- Birgit Burton