David Johnson Issues Call to Action Following His Sister's Death

The Gwinnett County School Board and Superintendent need to go, according to David Johnson, brother of a young woman who passed away from a rare bacterial infection.

Editor's note: the following is a letter to the editor sent by David Johnson, Hannah Rinehart's brother. Hannah passed away last month from a rare bacterial infection that led to blood poisoning. Her husband, Mark Rinehart, teaches math at South Gwinnett High School.

Prior to Hannah's death, Mark and David tried to get a policy changed regarding donated Paid Time Off (PTO). The current policy does not allow faculty members to donate their unused sick days to another teacher if their spouse is ill.

The following opinion is that of the author, and does not reflect the views of Patch or its employees.

For further background information, see the following stories:

  • Family of Quadruple Amputee Pleads for School Board Policy Change
  • School Board Denies Policy Change for Rineharts
  • State Legislators: State Law Does Not Prohibit Donating Sick Leave to Mark Rinehart
  • Walk-a-thon Scheduled for Operation Appreciation
  • South Gwinnett's Sgt. Christopher Diaz: 'Mark Rinehart is our Battle Buddy'
  • Rare Bacterial Infection Strikes Again


The Gwinnett County School Board and Superintendent need to go. Amidst the outpouring of love in the last few weeks of my sweet sister Hannah Rinehart’s life, the Gwinnett County School Board and Superintendent cast a pall with their callous disregard.  Should these people have so much influence over our children? Hannah’s last weeks were without her husband, because of the GCSB and Superintendent’s moral failure.

My family’s experiences exposed this moral failure in the GCSB and Superintendent that I’m not sure can be fixed. These government power brokers are unfit to steward Gwinnett’s most precious resource. The school board needs to elect at least 3 new members to have the votes to hire a new superintendent. Only 3 seats are available for election. Ignore the party designations on the ballot.  Vote against the incumbent. 

Better yet, pull your children out from under their influence, altogether. You will never regret it. I have often worked multiple jobs so my wife could concentrate her work on schooling our children. The investment my wife and I are making into our children is priceless. My children embrace learning and we give them personal love and support as they learn. My encounter with the GCSB and Superintendent has reinforced the wisdom of our choice to provide Christian education to our children at home.

As I sought to help my sister and brother-in-law, I witnessed board meetings which were bloated with self-aggrandizing displays. Those that came before the GCSB and Superintendent seemed to kowtow in abysmal reverence before the elevated perch of the board. Why should this be? Public office should be synonymous with humility and service, not superiority and authoritarianism. 

Let’s change what we can change.  I encourage you to vote November 6th. 

Donna Aker October 26, 2012 at 02:07 AM
David, I know your grief speaks out and I do agree that the School Board should move on this issue. But that is where I draw the line. GCPS teachers and schools do a fantastic job of educating all students, regardless of race, creed, parents, socioeconomics, and all the other wonderful words bounced around. I have dedicated my life to educating, not only my own children, but those from anywhere and everywhere. It has been very rewarding. From Virginia to Florida to here, GCPS is the best district in their fiscal responsibility, and continuity of instruction. In these times, a AAA bond rating is not to be taken lightly. And that makes a difference when we are educating and don't have to worry about whether the air or heat will work, will my paycheck clear and will I have a job next year. If parents want to be involved, volunteer at your child's school, go to school board meetings, monitor their decisions and the budget. If the school board and superintendent is not to your liking, run for office and win. Get out the vote. But don't take it out on the 22,000 employees of GCPS who work everyday to ensure a free, quality education to all who want it.
Mary Lou October 26, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Although we took ours out of that belly of the beast(LOVE that, so fitting) I would be happy to throw in our votes against the incumbent. We took ours to private years ago as we were clearly seeing the system fail us and our kids. I would love to reintegrate them back to public but just dont foresee it in any school years we have left now. Any particular names you'd like to see a vote for? I can give ya 2 votes from our direct household and a few more from the people we will be going together with on voting day!
David Johnson October 26, 2012 at 11:01 AM
Donna, I was not taking anything out on the 22,000 employees of Gwinnett County Public Schools. You and so many other teachers in the public school system are a bright and shining example of what a true and caring teacher should look like. Not every parent can afford to homeschool or place their child in private school. You and other good teachers are underpaid and under appreciated. Thank you for what you do. David Johnson
Button G. October 26, 2012 at 04:12 PM
"If parents want to be involved" says it all. I am sure you have good intentions, for which I respect you, but your comment reflects a mindset that is messed up in a big way. There is nothing free about government "education."
Annette Rogers October 27, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Jen Falk for District 3 - votejenfalk.com. All three incumbants from the "odd" districts 1, 3, and 5 are on the ballot. All the districts have been "realligned" so you may not be voting for (or against) who you think. Many in Norcross and the "Chesney" area of Duluth are no longer in District 3. However, District 3 stretches up Gwinnett's West coast to include all of Peachtree Ridge, and much of North Gwinnett, Lanier, and 1 school in Collins Hill. Although (because?) she has no political or GCPS administration experience, Jen Falk is a powerful opponent. She has researched the 900+ page GCPS budget, is currently a director at Parent 2 Parent supporting families of students with special needs, is sharp as a tack, and is unbelievably responsive.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »