Clayton County, Georgia

Clayton County, Georgia
Clayton County, Georgia
Map of Georgia highlighting Clayton County
Location in the state of Georgia
Map of the U.S. highlighting Georgia
Georgia's location in the U.S.
Founded 1858
Seat Jonesboro
Largest city Forest Park
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

144.28 sq mi (374 km²)
142.62 sq mi (369 km²)
1.66 sq mi (4 km²), 1.15%
 - (2008)
 - Density

1,658/sq mi (640/km²)
Congressional districts 5th, 13th
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4

Clayton County is a county located in the U.S. state of Georgia. As of 2000, the population was 236,517. The 2008 Census estimate placed the population at 273,718.[1] The county seat is Jonesboro.[2]

Clayton County is within the five-county core of the Atlanta Metropolitan Area, and is the county in which most of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport lies.

The county was established in 1858 and named in honor of Augustin Smith Clayton (1783–1839), who served in the United States House of Representatives from 1832 until 1835.



According to the 2000 census, the county has a total area of 144.28 square miles (373.7 km2), of which 142.62 square miles (369.4 km2) (or 98.85%) is land and 1.66 square miles (4.3 km2) (or 1.15%) is water.[3]

Adjacent counties


As of the 2000 census,[4] there were 236,517 people, 82,243 households, and 59,214 families residing in the county. The population density was 1,658 people per square mile (640/km²). There were 86,461 housing units at an average density of 606 per square mile (234/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 37.94% White, 51.55% Black or African American, 0.32% Native American, 4.49% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 3.55% from other races, and 2.08% from two or more races. 7.50% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

Estimated 2006 population is 271,240, with a racial make-up of 20.4% white non-Hispanic, 62.9% African American, 5% Asian, 11.3% Hispanic or Latino, 0.4% American Indian or Alaska Native, and 0.1% Pacific Islander. 1.5% were reported as multi-racial.

There were 82,243 households out of which 40.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.70% were married couples living together, 20.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.00% were non-families. 21.80% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.84 and the average family size was 3.30.

In the county the population was spread out with 30.00% under the age of 18, 10.40% from 18 to 24, 35.40% from 25 to 44, 18.40% from 45 to 64, and 5.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 94.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.90 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $42,697, and the median income for a family was $46,782. Males had a median income of $32,118 versus $26,926 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,079. About 8.20% of families and 10.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.20% of those under age 18 and 8.90% of those age 65 or over.

The last quarter-century has seen significant change in the racial composition of the county's population. In 1980, Clayton county's population was 150,357 — 91% white and 9% minority, [1] while in 2006 the population was approximately 271,240 — 20% white and 80% minority. Many of these minority groups lived in Clayton County's housing projects that were built around the time these minority groups moved to Clayton County; since then many of the housing projects have been redeveloped due to high crime.[5]

Crime and Policing

On March 20, 2007, the county appointed its first black police chief, Jeffrey E. Turner, who promised to help alleviate crime in the county. The Clayton County Commission voted in December 2009 to oust Turner for various offenses including insubordination, an unorganized evidence room, failure to properly handle sexual harassment complaints against officers, several high-speed chases that resulted in civilian deaths, and 138 unaccounted-for firearms. Though residents rallied in his support, the Commission voted to reassign Turner as the department head for the Academy.[6]

CBS Atlanta, a local news affiliate, reported[7] in 2011 that the county has been unwilling to discipline officers "accused of terrorizing citizens". One officer cited in the CBS Atlanta story, Michael Hobbs, was shown in police records to have punched a man suffering from a diabetic coma, wrongly assuming the man was drunk. Despite hospital photographs of the man's beating, Hobbs received no reprimand, and CBS Atlanta reports that no action has been taken to address Hobbs' 58 incidents of use of force, "nearly 20 times more often than an average Clayton County police officer had in the same time period."


ValuJet Airlines was headquartered in northern unincorporated Clayton County, near William B. Hartsfield International Airport, in the 1990s.[8]

Cities and towns

Unincorporated areas

  • Rex (unincorporated)
  • Conley (unincorporated)
  • Ellenwood (unincorporated)
  • Irondale (unincorporated)
  • Bonanza (unincorporated)
  • Lake Spivey
  • Clayton Panhandle
  • Old Dixie
  • Mountain View
  • Flintwoods
  • Flint River District
  • Lake Harbin
  • Old South
  • Botany Woods
  • Valley Hill
  • Arrowhead District
  • North Jonesboro




Mass transit


Clayton County mass transit is run by C-TRAN, with five fixed bus routes and Paratransit. As of March 31, 2010, C-TRAN ended due to operating budget shortfalls.[9]


There is commuter rail service in the planning stages along the Norfolk Southern line, with proposed stations in Forest Park, Morrow, Jonesboro, and initially ending at Lovejoy. This line is projected to run to Macon eventually. However, it has been repeatedly stalled by the Georgia General Assembly, despite having federal funding already available for it.

The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority's Airport station is located just barely in Clayton. Buses from Clayton feed into MARTA rail stations in Fulton (College Park and East Point). Clayton is one of three counties with representation on the MARTA board, but no rail service, since voters refused to approve the 1% sales tax needed to fund it.


Parts of Margaret Mitchell's epic 1936 novel Gone with the Wind and the famous 1939 Gone with the Wind film were set in Clayton County. It was the location of the fictional Tara Plantation, which was the beautiful and spacious cotton plantation where protagonist Scarlett O'Hara lived with her parents and sisters. Tara Boulevard was named for the plantation, and is the main north/south road through the county, carrying U.S. 41 and lesser-known Georgia 3. Also a namesake is Tara Field, the county's general aviation airport, actually located in a neighboring county where it was previously Henry County Airport.

Also, parts of the novels Rhett Butler's People and Scarlett and the Scarlett TV Mini-Series took place in Clayton County. Rhett Butler's People is a prequel, sequel, and companion to Gone with the Wind, but the beautiful Tara Plantation was burned down in the end. Scarlett is a sequel to Gone with the Wind, also and also takes place briefly in Clayton County.

In the above mentioned novels, the fictional Twelve Oaks Plantation and others mentioned in the novels above, are located in and around Clayton County.

Parts of the film Smokey and the Bandit were also shot in and around Clayton County, namely in Jonesboro, as evidenced by a sign in the background of one of the scenes. Even though this particular scene was supposed to be set in Arkansas, a "Willow Bend" sign advertising brick homes in Clayton County can be spotted behind Sheriff George Branford. Many back roads and the movie town of Texarkana are actually the roads and the town of Jonesboro.


Primary and secondary schools

The Clayton County School System is the fifth largest in Georgia.[10] On August 28, 2008, the district lost its accreditation, citing a 'dysfunctional' school board.

Higher education

Clayton State University in Morrow.


The 50,000-student school system was the first in the nation to lose accreditation since 1969. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) revoked the school district's accreditation on August 28, 2008.[11] This makes only the second system in the nation to do so since 1960. A grand jury investigated and considered possible criminal indictments against the Clayton County School Board. At issue was whether the school board committed malfeasance in ignoring the shortcomings of the school system and violating its own rules concerning the awarding of bids of contracts.

School Board Chairwoman Ericka Davis announced her resignation on April 2, 2008, amidst the allegations. Clayton County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell has called for the resignations of all Clayton County School Board Members.[12]

Amid controversy and orders for the police to quiet citizens, the Clayton County School Board hired a new temporary superintendent on April 26, 2008. This was despite the fact that the new superintendent did not meet the qualifications set forth by SACS.[13]

All of Clayton County Public Schools accreditation is currently fully restored and unconditional.

The district currently has 51,237 students enrolled in its 63 schools. Under the current Superintendent Dr. Edmond T. Heatley, the district has a strategic plan that includes the vision and mission statements. Clayton County has twenty-two elementary and five middle schools that have been deemed by the Georgia Department of Education as Distinguished Schools. This is based on the number of consecutive years of making AYP.

Shekema Silveri, a teacher at Mount Zion High in Clayton County Public Schools, was named Georgia's 2011 National Milken Educator of the Year. This prestigious national recognition from the Milken Family Foundation comes with a no-strings-attached cash prize of $25,000.

CCPS has two charter schools. Unidos Dual Language, Georgia's first public dual language school is a model of excellence in language education. Unidos serves students in Pre-kindergarten through sixth grades. The second charter school is the Elite Scholars Academy the school serves grades 6-10 and will be expanding to the twelfth grade by 2014. The school operates on a year round calendar. Any student in the district may apply to enroll. Selection is based on a random lottery.

Lovejoy High School hosts the district International Baccalaureate Program (IB). The IB Diploma Program is designed as an academically challenging and balanced program of education with final exams that prepare students for success at the university level and life beyond.

Clayton County also has a Math and Science Magnet and two fine arts magnet programs at Jackson Elementary and Mount Zion High Schools. Enrollment is based on application and/or audition.

See also

Portal icon Atlanta portal
Portal icon State of Georgia portal


  1. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Population for Counties of Georgia: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2007" (.xls). United States Census Bureau. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ "Census 2000 U.S. Gazetteer Files: Counties". United States Census. Retrieved 2011-02-13. 
  4. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^ "Clayton County, Georgia". American Factfinder. United States Census Bureau. 2008. 
  6. ^ "Turner out as Clayton police chief". The Atlanta Journal Constitution. Retrieved 2009-12-28. 
  7. ^ Saltzman, Wendy. "Officer accused of terrorizing citizens, still on force". CBS Atlanta 46. Retrieved 5 October 2011. 
  8. ^ "Civil Action No. 1-96-CV-1355-JTC." Stanford University Law School. Retrieved on May 19, 2009.
  9. ^ Fausset (March 31, 2010). "Clayton County loses vital bus service, link to Atlanta". Los Angeles Times.,0,3408048.story. 
  10. ^ "District Statistics". Clayton County Public Schools. Retrieved 2008-04-05. 
  11. ^ Matteucci, Megan (2008-08-28). "Clayton schools lose accreditation; board members ousted". Atlanta Journal Constitution. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  12. ^ Matteucci, Megan (2008-04-02). "Clayton school board chairwoman steps down". Atlanta Journal Constitution. Retrieved 2008-04-05. 
  13. ^ Matteucci, Megan (2008-05-01). "Clayton signs school chief's contract amid police presence". Atlanta Journal Constitution. 

External links

Coordinates: 33°32′N 84°22′W / 33.54°N 84.36°W / 33.54; -84.36

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