DCSS OKs ethics policy

ALBANY, Ga. -- A series of tireless debates ended Monday evening when the Dougherty County School Board approved an ethics policy consistent with the model sent down from the Georgia State Board of Education.

The model was sent down to board members earlier this year. By the beginning of 2011, the Dougherty board was expected to have a policy in place equal to or stronger than the model, but not weaker.

Three separate drafts came before the board Monday night. The motion to go with the state model came from the Rev. James Bush. "That is the one I favor," he said.

The motion passed 6-1 with Board Chairman David Maschke being the sole dissenter.

"I think it would be in the best interest of the school system if the board took on a policy (stronger) than the state," Maschke said. "Board members should set a standard."

The most discussed item regarded the hiring of personnel as it relates to board members recusing themselves when it comes to appointing family members -- specifically concerning what defines a family member. The model adopted Monday states: "comply with all applicable law, rules and regulations and all board policy regarding employment of family members."

The board chairman was among those who felt that wording was not specific enough. One of the drafts presented was titled "Maschke Revisions," which re-worded that section for it to apply to all family members. Emily Jean McAfee and Maschke voted for it. Bush, Milton "Junebug" Griffin, Velvet Riggins and Anita Williams-Brown opposed it. Michael Windom abstained.

"I think the chairman has gone crazy," Griffin said of Maschke's revisions.

The draft drawn up by Board Attorney Tommy Coleman defined family as immediate relatives up through an applicant's second cousin.

In a different section of the policy, it also goes on to state that board members are expected to announce potential conflicts of interest before board action is taken.

The policy went through several series of revisions before the board eventually settled on the state's model. The domains it covers are government structure, strategic planning, board and community relations, policy development, board meetings, personnel, financial governance, conduct as a board member and conflicts of interest.

Monday's board meeting was the last for both McAfee and Windom, who represent District 4 and District 6 respectively. They were each presented with the Superintendent's Appreciation of Service Award.

"Thank you for this," Windom, who has been on the board since 1994, said. "This has been a great ride."

"It's been a pleasure to be of service," said McAfee, who has been on the board since 1999. "I will continue to be interested in the progress of the school system."

Beginning in January, District 6 will be represented by Darrel Ealum. District 4 will be represented by Carol Tharin.