Dougherty County Board of Education Chairman James Bush, left, speaks at the body’s meeting Wednesday. Superintendent Joshua Murfree sits to Bush’s left. The board voted to approve the suspensions of six teachers cited in the 2009 CRCT cheating investigation.
ALBANY, Ga. — Following an hourlong executive session, the Dougherty County School system Board of Education opted on Wednesday to accept the recommendations handed down from recent tribunal hearings as well as reinstate two of the system’s principals.
As recommended by the tribunal, the board voted in favor of suspensions of 40 contract days for six teachers cited in the 2009 Criterion-Referenced Competency Test cheating investigation. They were Tiffaney Randle of Northside Elementary School, Tara Mallard and Jennifer Smith of Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School, Lavonda Jolivette and Fatima Jackson of Turner Elementary School and Alberta Wallace of Sherwood Acres Elementary School.
A Dougherty principal cited in the investigation, Jose Roquemore, had his contract reinstated through a 4-2 vote by the board. A tribunal hearing had been scheduled for Roquemore today, but it has been canceled.
On a related note, Gloria Baker — another principal in the system — had her contract reinstated. Her contract had been non-renewed after she and her husband were both indicted on school lunch fraud charges earlier this year.
“She will still go before the Professional Standards Commission, but (we’ve done all we can with the case),” said Tommy Coleman, the attorney for the school system.
Darrel Ealum and Carol Tharin voted against both renewals.
As part of an attempt to dig deeper into suspicious free and reduced lunch applications, DCSS Finance Director Ken Dyer presented a report indicating that fraud may be a continuing problem.
Upon preliminary review, he noted that there were 440 students found to be dependents of the system’s employees. Of those, it appeared that 30 families had questionable incomes on their applications, Dyer said.
The employees in question have been sent letters and have been given 10 days to respond. Dyer added that he has been in talks with Margo DeLaune, title programs director for the Georgia Department of Education, regarding the situation.
The board was also briefed on an overcrowding at Sherwood Acres Elementary, which officials say is now occupying more than 780 students.
Officials said it appears some students who live closer to Northside Elementary are being sent to Sherwood Acres, prompting a check into residential records of some of the students.
“We are going to spend some time talking to the attendance clerk and make sure the students’ parents (are being truthful about where they are living),” Coleman said.
Also approved at the meeting Wednesday was the purchase of 10 new buses for the school system. At a meeting last week, the board’s Transportation Committee voted in favor of recommending the purchase.
A letter to Superintendent Joshua Murfree from Kenneth Williams, the system’s transportation director, dated Aug. 15, states the purchase — if it were approved by the full board — would be made using a state contract.
The state allocated $762,195 for the buses with the sale of a $25 million bond to be utilized for the purchase of 328 school buses throughout Georgia.
The school system is expected to supplement the purchase with the use of special-purpose local-option sales tax funds in the amount of $228,898.20 for the total purchase price of $991,093.20, the letter further states.