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Officials involved in altercation

Photo by J.D. Sumner

Photo by J.D. Sumner

ALBANY, Ga. -- A question about a customer service survey allegedly sparked a heated argument and a "one-sided physical altercation" between key school system administrators, according to Dougherty County School System sources.

Public Information Director R.D. Harter was on the receiving end of the Aug. 11 incident that also involved Executive Director of Operations and Business Services Robert Lloyd. When The Herald arrived at Superintendent Joshua Murfree's office for a comment about the alleged incident, his secretary, Lowanna Johnson, told the newspaper to speak to Harter since her office did not have any available information.

An e-mail from Harter to Lloyd's secretary, Lanise Wright, on Aug. 11 apparently started the argument. The e-mail said:

Good morning, Ms. Wright.

Could you tell me who revised the customer service surveys that you asked me to notify employees about yesterday?

Thank you,

R.D. Harter

Allegedly, Lloyd soon started yelling before he reached Harter's back office on the third floor, and Harter met Lloyd at his door. Harter described the alleged incident as a "one-sided physical altercation" but declined to provide specifics.

"He came into my office without any control of his temper," Harter said. "I don't think unprofessional behavior should be allowed in any workplace and particularly in a school system, where all staff should model adult behavior."

When asked by The Herald at his second-floor office for a statement about the incident, Lloyd said with a smile, "I have no comment."

Harter said he provided a verbal statement about the incident to DCSS Police Chief Troy Conley. Harter was asked by Conley if he wanted to press charges against Lloyd, and Harter said he didn't.

The Herald called the DCSS Police Department for an incident report but was told by an official there that Assistant Chief J.C. Phillips was handling the case and no report had been filed yet.

Murfree had a meeting with Harter and Lloyd about the alleged incident at 4 p.m. Monday in his office.

Lloyd was hired by the school system Dec. 4, 2000. Harter started work there in January 2008.

An unnamed longtime DCSS Administration Building employee -- who asked for anonymity -- said Monday about the incident: "It was highly unusual and unprofessional for the school system."

A resolution to the alleged incident didn't occur by the end of Monday's workday.