ALBANY, Ga. -- May 15 is looming as an important day for the Dougherty County School System. That’s the day that teacher contracts for the 2012-13 school year automatically renew — including more than 40 teachers who are currently awaiting administrative tribunal hearings in the wake of the governor’s CRCT cheating investigation.
But there is an added twist, If the contracts of the 44 are automatically renewed, the school system could lose the right to discipline them entirely.
The only way to prevent this possibility is if DCSS Superintendent Joshua Murfree issues letters of non-renewal to the certified employees (teachers) who were named in the CRCT cheating report.
Murfree was involved with principal evaluations Friday and did not respond to requests to find out where he stood on the matter of teacher contracts.
“If certified employees are not notified by May 15 that they will not be employed next school year they will automatically have a contract for the next school year,” DCSS school attorney Tommy Coleman said.
“The case law seems to be clear that if you know of an infraction of the law or policy in any one contract year and do not discipline a certified employee accordingly, you accept the infraction and cannot discipline them in the next contract year.
“Consequently, failure to non-renew may result in the loss of a right to discipline.”
Coleman pointed to the 2002 case of Velma Jean Moulder vs. Bartow County BOE in which she appealed her dismissal to the state Board of Education. Moulder was terminated for transgressions from the previous school year after her contract had been renewed.
The BOE determined that once the new contract was issued and accepted, then incidents involving her work performance that occurred before the issuance of the new contract could not be used as the basis for her termination.
In related news, Dougherty County District Attorney Greg Edwards said late Friday this is office is in the process of preparing "as we speak" to transfer some individual CRCT case files to Coleman.
"We are ready to turn over some files to Mr. Coleman," Edwards said. "We have determined that these cases should be handled by the school board's administrative tribunals. We are looking more closely at some other files for possible prosecution."
In late December of last year, investigators turned in a 293-page report to Governor Nathan Deal outlining cheating in 2009 on CRCT tests in 11 of 16 DCSS elementary.
Forty-nine teachers and administrators were named in the report, but the number dwindled to 44 through retirements and several who were no longer with the system.