Murfree provides his fingerprints for superintendent position

ALBANY -- In continuing the process to become the Dougherty County School System's next superintendent, Albany State University executive Joshua Murfree had his fingerprints taken by the DCSS Police Department Tuesday, Human Resources Director Tracy S. Williams said.

"We don't have to keep fingerprint cards anymore," Williams said. "We've gone high tech with a U.S.-wide background check, which makes our search more comprehensive and with quicker response time. One of the many step changes for the Dougherty County School System human resources department.

"(Murfree) was our first person using the USA-wide system," Williams said of the system which went into effect Jan. 1. "He has no criminal background activity. ... I cleared him (off of the background check), which is required of people spending time on each of our district sites outside of a special (occasion)."

Dougherty County Board of Education Chairman David Maschke said Murfree, like all new potential school system employees, must submit to a national and state background check that includes being fingerprinted. Maschke also noted the other areas that Murfree and the board members need to fulfill before Murfree could officially become the next superintendent.

"Regarding other items that remain to be addressed before a vote to appoint a new superintendent, good business sense would dictate that terms of a contract need to be addressed, a draft contract developed that is agreeable to both parties and a start date needs to be discussed and agreed upon," Maschke said. "The law requires that the superintendent must give a surety bond. Also the tabled public forum remains to be addressed. These are all items that the Board is responsible to address and determine."

Murfree, 54, was appointed the only finalist by the Dougherty County School Board in a 5-2 vote Jan. 27. The board confirmed its vote Feb. 3 at a special-called meeting through a 4-3 vote. Board member Michael Windom had asked the board to reconsider its Jan. 27 vote following a public outcry to continue the superintendent selection process by conducting second-round interviews with the other finalists. Windom and at-large board member Anita Williams-Brown had said there were at least two other finalists in comments made to The Herald Jan. 27.

The Herald revealed Williams-Brown, who had made the motion to appoint Murfree Jan. 27, had a business relationship with Murfree through a nonprofit organization with her Hawkinsville church. The Herald also uncovered, through an Open Records request, that Murfree had written a 2001 letter of recommendation for Williams-Brown when she was seeking a principal position in the DCSS. In the letter, Murfree referred to Williams-Brown as a colleague and friend.

On Feb. 4, The Herald partnered with WALB-TV and WFXL-TV in a lawsuit against the DCSS School Board to release names and information about the other finalists. The school board agreed to release the other finalists names through a settlement reached Feb. 26. But, since the other five candidates that the school board interviewed in late December all asked to have their names withdrawn from consideration only Murfree remained March 1.

The media outlets officially dismissed its case against the school board Tuesday. Murfree could be named the next superintendent as early as Monday since 14 days will have elapsed since the school board released its information as part of the settlement agreement.