County commission sets date to appoint school board replacement

At Monday's meeting, the Shelby County Commission set October 9th as the date to fill a vacancy on the Shelby County School Board that has some officials divided.

The vacancy formed when board member Wyatt Bunker was elected to the Shelby County Commission.

Two whites blacks and three whites make up the group that is vying for the job that some commissioners have already said should go to an African American.  Commissioners have argued that racial diversity is needed in the all-white school board.  Monday, candidate Mark Wissman disagreed.

"It's not a good example to set, whether it's school board, county commission, or mayor, to do something based on race," he said.

Candidate Dr. Vera Bogan-Mays agreed, saying she didn't want race to play a role in the decision.  "The best person should be chosen, and it shouldn't be based on race," she said.  "I just happen to be black, and I happen to be a woman, and I happen to be qualified."

Others worried at not only race, but political affiliation, would play a role in the appointment.  Candidate Diane George said students, not race or politics, should be the focus of the decision.  "It's about children," she said. "It's about what we need to do to prepare them."

The other two hopefuls, Dr. Fred Johnson and Paul Pritt, were not available for comment Monday.  All candidates will be interviewed by commissioners before they make a final decision in two weeks.