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School Board Chairman To Call Special Meeting

December 13, 1989

ATLANTA (AP) _ City school board chairman D.F. Glover said he would ask the school board to consider disciplinary action against Superintendent J. Jerome Harris and his top aide because they lack proper certification for their jobs.

Glover said Tuesday he called a special board meeting today to discuss whether Harris and Associate Superintendent Ronald H. Lewis should be subject to any disciplinary action.

Harris said he allowed his temporary superintendent’s certificate to lapse four months ago but needs just one college course to earn a new certificate.

The class Harris needs to take is similar to one he taught for 14 years at Brooklyn College. He said he will take the needed class beginning in January.

Lewis appears to be further from certification and also has drawn criticism for allegations that he plagiarized much of his doctoral dissertation in 1973. Lewis has denied the allegation.

State officials said Lewis, Harris’ top aide for 15 months, lacks an approved bachelor of education degree or its equivalent.

″He isn’t certified, he’s in over his head, and there’s a big question about whether we’re going to keep him,″ said board member Bob Waymer.

Lewis said he had been working to obtain a certificate since he arrived in Atlanta, but said he did not know until Monday that he had been turned down.

Jane Shah, who is in charge of certification standards and evaluation for the state Department of Education, said that if Lewis doesn’t earn the required certificate by Jan. 31 he could be barred from overseeing instruction.

Many board members were angered when they learned he was accused of plagiarizing much of his dissertation at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Rutherford, N.J. He was allowed to keep his degree because he had had it for 10 years before the dissertation was questioned.

Harris said he knew of the plagiarism allegations when he recommended Lewis but decided not to tell the board.

″I didn’t think it was any of (the board’s) business,″ Harris said. ″That was more than five years ago and he already has served his penance for that.″

The plagiarism allegations arose in 1982 when Lewis was nominated for the top education job in New Jersey. He eventually withdrew his name from consideration.

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