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August 25--  The chairwoman of the Montgomery County school board testified this week that the school board has made mistakes governing the county school system since taking office in January.

Chairwoman Deloris James told the state school board the biggest mistake they made was not hiring the right school superintendent following the resignation of Dr. Lynn Batten last December.

"I really believe the biggest problem the five of us as the Montgomery County Board of Education made was not hiring Randy Rodgers as superintendent on January 1, 2011.  Had we done that, I do not think we would be charged and faced with these governance issues," she said.

Members of the board admit they need more training and James says they made a mistake by not properly managing personnel changes and salary cuts recommended by Superintendent Dr. Charles Warnock when he was on board back in March.

"These were announced at a board meeting.  There were feelings hurt, there were mad spouses and a lot of outcry from the public.  Those things had to be done, but those people's names and where they were going to be transferred and their salary cuts should not have been done until they were told face to face," James said.

The chairwoman denies one of the allegations by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools that the board failed to seek or follow the advice of school attorney Tom Everette.

"On two occasions I have asked our board attorney how that statement came to be in that report.  I asked if the SACS team interviewed him and they did not.  So I have no idea since legal counsel was not interviewed.  Every decision we have made, we have asked him if it's okay to proceed in the manner," James told the state school board.

All members of the school board testified on the need to improve communications and Superintendent Rodgers responded to State Board member Allen Rice of Vidalia who asked if the "Your Mind on Line" column in the Vidalia newspaper helps "drive the craziness?"  Rodgers says the paper needs to take some responsiblity and accused it of "one-sided reporting" of the ongoing school system story.