ALBANY, Ga. -- With Superintendent-elect Joshua Murfree's proposed contract likely to be approved in the near future, the process to help him gain a required waiver permit from the Georgia Professional Standards Commission continues.
Because Murfree doesn't hold the mandatory L-6 or high level of certification that was required of all applicants for the Dougherty County School System superintendent position, he is required to follow a number of steps established by the Professional Standards Commission. Murfree has no K-12 experience but marked on his superintendent application that he had an L-7 leadership certificate.
He stated, "I possess an earned doctorate degree from an accredited institution."
An L-7 is for a certificate in educational leadership (doctorate), L-6 is an education specialist and L-5 master's. Murfree's doctorate is in counseling psychology from Howard University.
As part of an Open Records request, The Herald obtained e-mails and documentation that the DCSS sent to the PSC since the Dougherty County Board of Education voted 4-3 that Murfree was the "best-qualified applicant available" April 12, per Professional Standards Commission permit requirements.
DCSS Human Resources Director Tracy S. Williams e-mailed Murfree May 17 that his two-year permit was posted on the PSC's website and that he had received the certification number 295186. It stated that his educator's certification level was 7 and was effective as of May 1, 2010.
Williams' e-mail caused Board of Education Chair David Maschke to ask what exactly her e-mail meant. Maschke's e-mail reads:
"So what does this now mean? Is it an L-7 'Permit' to serve as Superintendent? Do you have the written instructions/requirements yet from PSC on what Dr. Murfree will be required to do during the two-year permit period? Have you completed the memo I requested so that it can be sent to all Board members and Dr. Murfree to be sure everyone is on the same page?
Dr. Murfree has a permit, not an L-7. He has not completed a performance based Educational Administration program in the state of GA, which would yield the L-7 certificate. The route his issued credential follows is defined as an alternate means to certification. Do not have the notice that PSC will issue Dr. Murfree as of yet, that will come within the next 10 days, traditional mail. Because his credential is posted, it is valid as of May 1, 2010. The memo is contingent upon what the state will indicate in his formal notice from PSC as to his requirements. I will advise when I receive this info, then I will submit the memo to the board of the requirements as you have requested.
According to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, "Permit fields are issued only for foreign languages; the fields of art, dance, drama or music; JROTC (by specific service branch); and the Educational Leadership roles of Superintendent and Building Principal."
The Open Records request also provided an April 28 letter from Albany State University President Everette Freeman, Murfree's immediate superior, to highlight his responsibilities at the four-year university. His letter begins:
"Dear Professional Standards Commission:
It is with much pleasure, honor and humility that I write this letter on behalf of Joshua Murfree whom I have known for approximately five  years during my Presidency at Albany State University (ASU). Dr. Murfree is a true exemplification of scholar and leader. He cares about people and always wants the very best for them and that's why I made him my Executive Assistant and Chief of Staff. Whenever you call on him to take on extra duties he will answer the call and respond accordingly. Let me take the time to elucidate on his leadership experience and educational training. Dr. Murfree was hired at Albany State University on May 9, 1999, in the capacity of Associate Professor and Department Chairman for Psychology, Sociology and Social Work."
Freeman later noted that with Murfree's "tenacity and drive to achieve" he earned full professor status in 2005. He also noted that Murfree has 13 years of leadership responsibilities in education and related educational roles when his two years as the executive director of the America Future's Institute in Atlanta are figured in.
Besides serving as executive assistant to the president for the past three years, Freeman also said in his letter to the Professional Standards Commission that Murfree had been the administrative chief of staff for three years and that Freeman promoted him to athletic director when he needed to "call on a person that I knew would deliver." Over the last year years, Freeman also asked Murfree to add the responsibilities of the vice president of enrollment management and student affairs.
Freeman also stated that Murfree was the director of the Center for the African-American Male for seven years and served as the co-liaison for SACS accreditation for two years when the college was reaffirmed in December 2008.
Murfree completed yearlong leadership training in 2006, Freeman wrote, from the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education in Washington, D.C. This training covered "budgeting and finance, hiring practices, board management, personnel issues, athletic programs, transportation, investing, training of staff, student government, fundraising and leveraging relationships with private, corporate and alumni organizations as well as grant writing."
Freeman also noted that Murfree has served on ASU's master's thesis committee for its MPA Program and that he has been a consultant for at least 18 doctoral candidates since 2000. The students attended Argosy, Fielding Institute, Nova, University of Georgia, Walden and Union University.
He concluded his letter to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission by stating:
"Let me say that I know without a shadow of doubt Dr. Murfree is a class act and an outstanding leader. There are attachments further solidifying Dr. Murfree as having served in a leadership role for three years or more.
Thank you all for your consideration and cooperation in this very important matter.
Everette J. Freeman
The attachments that Freeman referred to were not furnished with the Open Records request.
As part of his two-year permit process, the Dougherty County School System will have to provide Murfree with a mentor, who has yet to be named. Details of his required individual professional development plan are still being worked out by the Professional Standards Commission. The school system is expecting to receive that information from the PSC within the next 10 days.