Murfree signs contract

Photo by Avan Clark

Photo by Avan Clark

ALBANY, Ga. -- Joshua Murfree, an Albany State University executive, will start work as Dougherty County School System's 14th superintendent Tuesday after signing a three-year contract.

Murfree's contract will initially have him earn a total compensation package of $165,344. Once Murfree -- who doesn't have K-12 experience -- becomes certified based on requirements set by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, his total compensation package will increase to $172,344.

The contract also was signed by Dougherty County Board of Education Chair David Maschke, a notary and a witness Wednesday at the Administration Building.

Murfree, 54, was earning $115,225 at Albany State as the university's chief of staff, executive assistant to the president, director of athletics and vice president of enrollment management and student affairs.

Retiring nine-year Superintendent Sally Whatley, who currently earns a total compensation package of $173,143.32, had finished clearing out her third-floor office for Murfree Wednesday morning. She will use the third-floor conference room through the end of the month as she mentors Murfree.

Murfree signing his contract to be Dougherty County's 14th superintendent since 1885 and only its second African-American to hold the title, brings to close a process that began Jan. 27. On that date, Murfree was appointed the "only" superintendent finalist by board member Anita Williams-Brown, who The Herald later that night uncovered had a business relationship with Murfree dating to 2003. The newspaper also revealed that Murfree wrote a letter of recommendation for Williams-Brown in 2001 when she was applying for a principal position within the system.

Despite being ranked 34th out of 37 applicants for the job -- on criteria the School Board decided -- the board halted its planned selection process to name Murfree after only going through one general, hour-long interview and never checked his six references.

Albany media outlets joined in a lawsuit to force the board to name the other two finalists for the position after board members Williams-Brown and Michael Windom told The Herald there were other finalists. The board finally furnished the names, but the other two finalists -- Roy Brooks of Arkansas and Valya Lee of Clayton County -- and the other three candidates the board interviewed all withdrew their names in late February.

This resulted in Murfree being the only candidate remaining for the position.