Gwinnett School Superintendent’s Resigns from Cognia Board Service

Gwinnett school superintendent’s board service raises ethics concern

Cognia, school district say there’s no conflict of interest despite complaints from parent group.

Gwinnett County’s superintendent is now off the board of directors of the agency that accredits schools.

His resignation comes after months of complaints from a group of parents.

Channel 2′s Matt Johnson was in Lawrenceville finding answers as to why those parents say there was a conflict of interest.

Cognia is the independent agency that provides accreditation to Gwinnett schools, so some parents have been sounding the alarm that the superintendent shouldn’t also be associated with them. After months, the superintendent listened.

“It’s the fox guarding the hen house,” Gwinnett County parent Amy Cook said.

Gwinnett County superintendent Calvin Watts has been fielding criticism from a group of parents for months since he joined the Cognia Board of Directors in May.

Cognia is the nonprofit agency that accredits Gwinnett County schools and assesses many other districts internationally, too.

“It’s just a very clear conflict of interest,” Cook said.

Cook is one of the Gwinnett parents that has been emailing the school board, Cognia, and Watts with concerns.

She says it was a possible violation of his contract that banned outside employment without a school board vote, but the contract does specify employment with nonprofits.

“The fact that he didn’t bring it to the board is very suspicious,” Cook said.

Watts announced on the district website last week that he would give up his position on the Cognia board.

“I make this decision solely because of the distraction this particular professional opportunity has caused in our district,” he said.

He says he’s not the first superintendent on the board and at first defended his position before deciding to step down.

Gwinnett retained its accreditation in May from Cognia.