Clarkston city manager unanimously voted out after reports of hostile work environment

CLARKSTON, Ga. — Clarkston council members voted to part ways with their city manager on Monday night.

There has been ongoing chaos at city hall as the police chief and others claimed the City Manager Shawanna Qawiy created a hostile work environment.

Channel 2′s Steve Gehlbach was out in Clarkston Monday after learning many officers have also left the city and more were threatening to quit.

Currently, the police department is currently down to just nine officers, from a full force of 21.

Public safety is just one reason the city manager agreed to resign and the council unanimously accepted her resignation last night.

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Now Qawiy is out after a unanimous vote by council members Monday night.

At a previous meeting, she insisted she was not the problem in the city.

“Oh I have great interaction right now with the police department,” she said.

But officers have been leaving Clarkston, some saying it’s because of Qawiy, and her rejecting a proposed police pay raise.

Chief Christine Hudson said she was demoted after being suspended without pay in April and retaliated against for filing an equal employment opportunity commission complaint against the city manager claiming she is racist against white people.

Qawiy denies any wrongdoing.

Channel 2 Action News expects an announcement soon about who will be the interim city manager in Clarkston.


On top of the personnel changes by officials, the Clarkston City Council also voted to increase police officer salaries.

Now, officers will start with an annual salary of $60,000. Members of the city council said officers who left due to low pay and hostile work environments created by the city manager are now coming back to work.

Officials told Channel 2′s Tyisha Fernandes that nine officers had left the force due to the environment.

Clarkston homeowner Brian Medford goes to most council meetings. He missed Monday’s meeting, when a unanimous vote terminated Qawiy’s employment, and said it caught him off guard.

“I did not expect that at all,” Medford said.

He told Channel 2 Action News that he and several others had begged for Qawiy to be removed at the last meeting, following multiple police officers accusing her of creating a hostile work environment.

Hudson had even filed an EEOC complaint against Qawiy, claiming she was racist toward her and other officers.

The vote Monday allowed Qawiy to resign with a severance package of nearly $68,000.

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Members of the city council told Fernandes they were focused on getting the police force back to where it was before Qawiy became city manager, according to Jamie Carroll, a council member. He said he wishes her well.

“I’ve already heard from several people in the police department that they’re now staying and that from our chief we’ll be rebuilding the police department and we should be back to a good number of officers very quickly,” Carroll told Channel 2 Action News.

Fernandes spoke to officers as well. They said they wonder if John Pearson is still the director of police services. Qawiy hired him for that role.

When asked for records about Pearson’s salary and contract, the city sent Fernandes a copy of a yellow post-it note, saying he was hired via verbal agreement and has no documented salary.

“So if he had a verbal agreement with our previous city manager - that was with the previous city manager so it’ll be up to our new city manager if Mr Pearson has any position with the city,” Medford said.

In the meantime, Pearson still has a city-issued badge, gun, and uniform.