Candy Cato, representing the Coalition of School Improvement, addressed the board about the matter Monday during the BOE’s regular meeting.
“Number VIII of Section 2.11 of board policy states that, ‘the individual must have no direct or indirect financial or contractual interest in St. Clair County Board of Education business matters,’” Cato said. “Clearly, Mrs. Cobb is in violation of this because her husband works at the Central Office.
“Who is going to step up and enforce this? Is it going to be Superintendent Jenny Seals, or board president Scott Suttle, or maybe Randy (Thompson)? Somebody needs to enforce this because it is a clear violation.”
Suttle said he thinks they have already received a ruling on this, but will ask again. Seals told Cato this section of the board policy precludes board members from teaching in the system.
“Or be an aide in the system, or be a nurse in the system, or be a support staff in the system,” Angie Cobb said.
“But when they created the job for your husband, that is clearly a conflict of interest,” Cato said.
“I can’t vote on anything that has to do with anyone that’s related to me,” Cobb said. “It is not a conflict of interest.
“To say there was a job created for my husband is very much wrong. That is not true. A teacher, an aide or a nurse cannot hold a board seat. Anybody that is paid by this board cannot be on the board. And that’s what the policy means.”
Board member Marie Manning said the policy probably came from the Alabama Association of School Boards, and that the board attorney can certainly clarify that.
“I’ll get a satisfactory answer,” Suttle said. “I don’t know what it is right now.”
After the meeting, Greg Cobb said that in 2005, he went to the State Department of Education to work with the Alabama Reading Initiative as a regional principal coach.
“Each year, the St. Clair County Board of Education voted to allow me to go on loan,” Cobb said. “In 2010, I decided to come back and avail my services to the St. Clair County BOE, because I was a tenured employee at the St. Clair County Board of Education.”
Cobb said he applied for a principal’s job, but did not get that position.
“However, there were principals on the interview committee, and they asked that I be in a position where I could help them with all aspects of curriculum,” Cobb said. “Mrs. Seals said at that time, they were going to district accreditation and they needed to strengthen the strategic teaching and curriculum.
“At that time, I came back in as an assistant principal, making assistant principal’s salary, just as I left in my tenured position.”
Cobb is currently an assistant principal of instruction. Before he went out “on loan,” Cobb was the assistant principal at Ragland School for five years. He has 18 years in the St. Clair County School System.
“Through the years, there have been boards of education across Alabama who have had family members elected to those positions, and family members who were actually board members,” Cobb said. “The ethics comes in when a family member votes directly for an issue that employee is associated with. Never has my wife voted for an issue that affected my employment. She abstained, and there’s never a reason for her to vote on anything I would recommend, because I’m an employee.”
Contact Gary Hanner at firstname.lastname@example.org.