Hatten, McAlexander and Neal seek Troup County School Board District 5 seat

Published 11:01 am Wednesday, March 13, 2024

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The LaGrange Daily News is writing a series of stories to help voters get to know the candidates for the upcoming local elections on May 21. Today, we are writing about the Troup County Board of Education District 5 seat.

A trio of candidates are seeking the District 5 seat currently held by Cathy Hunt, who did not seek reelection.

Former LaGrange College President Dan McAlexander, Realtor Rachel (pronounced Raquel) Lynn Neal and NAACP President Inetha Hatten are vying for the seat.

McAlexander said since retiring from LaGrange College he is enjoying retirement and spending a lot of time on the road visiting family, but he continues to volunteer on the Racial Trustbuilding Board as well as with the Meals on Wheels program at First United Methodist Church.

Neal said she has been a realtor for 26 years as of April, noting she just celebrated her 10-year anniversary with REMAX Results of LaGrange.

Hatten currently works as a case manager with a mental health outpatient clinic, but she also serves as Troup County NAACP President.


McAlexander said he has been encouraged by the progress of the school system as students come out of some difficult times caused by COVID.

“I think the administration and school board led us well through. It was a hard time for everybody all across the country. But I’ve seen some real progress begun to be made both in reducing some of the gaps in learning and also in providing activities and means to participate in those activities. And then a number of other things like helping make sure we’re educating every child to the best of our ability and making sure that even those who are underserved have access to things that will improve their performance in school and their level of school,” McAlexander said. “I want to see that continue.”

Neal said she was inspired to run for school board to help children.

“I have a heart for our nation’s children. I know that children are our future, and I want to get in there and make sure that we have all the resources and opportunities available for our children to thrive, even the children who may not have the support they need at home. I also want to have a continual open dialogue with the teachers and administrators on how we can better serve them as a school board and a community,” Neal said.

Hatten said she was inspired to run by the plight of our children.

“I was a substitute teacher a few years back, and I got a real glimpse of the educational needs and concerns of students. I feel that we need a school board that affiliates itself with the needs of our children and that we concentrate so much sometimes on the negative behaviors and not on the educational enrichment of the children,” Hatten said.


“I think it is improving. I think it has a distance to go given the dynamics of this particular community. At this particular time, I think it still tends to reflect the makeup of the town,” McAlexander said, noting the economic disparity throughout Troup County.

“I see them doing their very best to serve and their best to improve,” McAlexander said. “There’s still lots of work to do. We’ve got a long way to go, and I don’t think anyone’s satisfied with where we are. But I believe that we can get there.”

Neal offered similar thoughts on how the school system is doing.

“I think they’re doing a good job. But as always, there’s room for improvement,” she said.

Hatten indicated that she believes the school system is trending up, particularly due to changes in leadership at the top.

“I think the school system is doing a great job, but I think that’s part of because of the board we have now, with the superintendent, he did [retire]. So I think it came from the top and it trickles down,” Hatten said. “I think that we might need to have [a better] ratio of students to teachers. We may need to change that. We need to have teachers that are concerned about the students. We need parents. We need valuable PTA meetings again. We need parents who want their children to learn and be part of their learning experience. We can’t place all of this on the teachers.”


Amid the school board election, the school system is in the process of hiring a new superintendent due to the retirement of Dr. Brian Shumate. The current board has said they would like to make a hire by the end of the school year, possibly in June. School board candidates were asked what they would like to see in the new superintendent and how they could get their voice in the selection process, even though they won’t take office until 2025.

McAlexander said at this point he would do like anyone else and talk to the current board members.

“I know a few and tell them what we’re thinking about in terms of what we hope for. I would imagine there’ll be a couple of community forums. And I would think that any interested person that’s considering or now is running for school board would be very attuned to those opportunities,” McAlexander said.

Neal said she wants a superintendent who will work closely with the board to carry out their vision.

“I would also love someone in there who is willing to work closely with the board members who carry out what we think and what we recommend would be best for our community because nobody knows our community better than us. Especially if someone’s going to be coming from another city,” Neal said.

Hatten said that Troup County needs a qualified superintendent.

“That would be the first thing. Who qualifies in leadership? Who qualifies in educational goals for the children? Who qualifies in testing? Troup County schools should be just as good as any other school in Georgia. We want that when someone says that they graduated from a Troup County school that it means something, that those children are equipped to go into any higher learning education that they seek. If they seek to go into the job market, are they well equipped for that? Can they speak correctly? Can they write correctly? So that’s what I’m looking for,” Hatten said.