At the March 6 BOE meeting, Candy Cato — speaking on behalf of the Coalition for School Improvement, a parent group — questioned whether Angie Cobb, a board member, is in violation of school board policy, since her husband Greg Cobb works at the Central Office.
The Cobbs each read prepared statements in front of a packed audience at the meeting. Greg Cobb’s job title with the school system is Assistant Principal of Instruction.
“A little over one month ago, my wife and I became the subject of a CSI St. Clair video by Clay Cato,” Greg Cobb said. “Since then several videos have followed. Mr. Cato, I ask for your forgiveness because I have allowed bitterness, resentment and other negative feelings to take over my existence because of the accusations you have made. I have asked God to forgive me as well, because these feelings are not of God, but neither is fear.”
Clay and Candy Cato did not attend Monday’s meeting.
Cobb also said his professional character as a St. Clair BOE employee, outside of the election process, has been slandered and defamed via social media.
“I have been accused of interfering with the natural board process,” Cobb said. “This is not true and there is no evidence to substantiate it. It has also been stated that I am in my ‘high paid’ position (which I am the lowest paid administrator who has an office in the central office) in exchange for not running against Jenny Seals for Superintendent. Again, that is not true.
“My job has nothing to do with my wife’s position as a board member, but rather my specialized expertise and love for our county. I resent that you have made a mockery out of my passion and desire to move our county forward. Anyone who truly knows me fully knows that I am approachable and always willing to go the extra mile to help anyone. I have never received a phone call from any CSI member regarding these issues, which validates my hypothesis that I am under professional attack.
“I will not stand for it. I am asking our board of education for the full availability of the board attorney as I pursue all methods under the law to protect myself professionally.”
Cobb further accused the group known as CSI of engaging in “unjust attacks” on the central office, via the Internet, for over a year.
“The people of St. Clair County do not appreciate being told a portion of truth and making it seem that the board of education serving their children is corrupt,” he said. “I ask that you survey your constituents within the communities you serve to determine their feelings. I have worked hard to maintain an impeccable reputation both locally and statewide. I will protect it.”
Later in the meeting, Angie Cobb addressed the board, and those in attendance.
“Several months ago a few individuals came to the board and began a witch hunt against an employee of the board of education,” Angie Cobb said. “At that time, the individuals complained about the academic situations at the school their children attended and the dissatisfaction with the leadership of the school. At that board meeting, the individuals were listened to, and the superintendent addressed the individuals at a later time.
“The answers they received were not what they wanted to hear. Because of this, they continued to attend the board meetings and personally attacked this individual. I can say I am disappointed in myself as a board member for allowing this behavior to continue. From that point it was apparent these few individuals did not have the best interest for the school they had originally spoke of, but a personal, vindictive, power hungry motive to destroy anything good this school system works so hard to maintain, and to criticize individuals in the school system in order to make them feel important.
“This was never more apparent than the night the administrators from schools they originally spoke concerns of presented their academic plan. None of these individuals were present to hear the academic plan. This proved to me this was exactly as I had suspected — these people were only interested in causing discord and strife among the school system.”
She also said that the board and superintendent may not always agree, but will always strive for what is best for the children of St. Clair County.
“So therefore, at times, we agree to disagree,” she said. “This system is a central office staff, administrators, teachers, teacher’s aides, counselors, secretaries, bookkeepers, nurses, maintenance men, bus drivers, lunchroom workers and IT workers who provide the students of this county with every tool possible to succeed. For each of these groups, I am truly grateful. Without each and every position, this county would not succeed. I don’t think they hear that enough.”
Angie Cobb also said that the school system is students who have accomplished great feats.
“This school system has its flaws, yes, but we are a system accomplishing great things,” she said. “I for one will not stand again and let the negative forces hinder the hard work our employees, parents and students exhibit to achieve a common goal of excellence. I will continue to listen to your ideas, and work together to form solutions. So for the central office, administrators, faculty, support staff, parents, communities, but most of all the students, I want to thank you for all you do.”
Board member Terry Green applauded both for their statements.
“I was on the board many years ago,” Green said. “When I first came on the board, no one was allowed to come up here and address the board at all. There were no comments whatsoever.
“Our intent was to allow people who wanted to make us a better board and system, to come up here and share ideas. I think it has gone way beyond that. Maybe it is time to look at that policy. I hate to see negativity win out over something that was thought to be positive at one time.
“There are so many good things going on in our school system, and we just need to look at the positive in each and everything we do. We have a great school system, and there are so many positive things we need to focus on. We need to keep in mind that we are here for the students of this county. And anybody who does not want to get along beside us and help us in that direction, then we need to ignore them.”
Board member Marie Manning said Angie Cobb agreed.
“The students are the part of that, and that’s why we are here,” Manning said.
Superintendent Jenny Seals said she is sorry that Greg and Angie Cobb, as well as central office employees, have been attacked.
“We are people up here who will answer any questions,” Seals said. “Anyone who ever wants to ask a question, all they have to do is put it in writing, and present it to the board. Our legal team and attorneys have stated that we do not do business on Facebook or YouTube.”
Contact Gary Hanner at email@example.com.