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School system takes first steps toward recovery

ALBANY, Ga. — There is an old saying that goes “out of chaos comes opportunity.” If that adage holds true, the Dougherty County School System has plenty of opportunity ahead.

The Dougherty Board of Education, rocked last month by a 293-page report from state investigators naming 49 system principals, administrators and teachers in a widespread CRCT cheating scandal in 2009, finally took action at a special called meeting Wednesday night.

After spending more than two hours in executive session, the BOE emerged and took aim at the 18 teachers who had confessed to wrongdoing during the investigation.

The result was two principals resigning or taking early retirement — depending on whom you ask — three other principals being reassigned, two teachers being fired and 13 more removed from the classroom and reassigned to what in essence is Dougherty County’s version of a “rubber room.”

Three of the 18 are no longer employed by the system.

So far, so good. But that’s also the easiest part of the whole situation.

The two teachers who were fired did not have contracts and were at-will employees who could be terminated without hearings. That is not the case with the 13 teachers and three principals who were reassigned.

And therein lies the rub. While many in the public are clamoring for mass firings, the law will not allow it. As contracted employees, the principals and teachers are entitled to individual hearings.

Toss tenure into the mix, and the process will slow considerably more.

School Superintendent Joshua Murfree said Wednesday that he planned to meet with each of the 13 reassigned teachers by today. It’s expected that he will urge them to resign. Each resignation would save the system time and money and is the best-case scenario for the school system.

Accepting resignations, however, is just one of three options available to the board. The other two options are non-renewal of teacher contracts — which typically expire in May — and conducting hearings before administrative tribunals that were set up late last year to make recommendations to the board.

There are currently nine tribunal members who will be paid between $300 and $500 per day to conduct the hearings. With just seven of the 49 educators implicated now out of the system, that leaves as many as 42 who could go before the tribunals.

In addition, School Board Attorney Tommy Coleman has said that three or four more tribunal members might be necessary, depending on the volume of hearings.

That would represent a chunk of change for a school system already staring at a $9 million budget shortfall in the next fiscal year.

The DCSS is desperately attempting to avoid what happened in Atlanta when the Atlanta Public School System suspended more than 150 people with pay and is now reportedly doling out nearly a million dollars a month in salaries to principals and teachers who are sitting at home while waiting on the resolution of their cases.

Regardless, resolving the 42 local cases is going to be expensive and will likely be a drawn-out process.

Board member David Maschke, looking for a silver lining among the clouds, said Wednesday that he believes the school system now has a unique opportunity to fix many of the ills that have plagued the system.

But that, he notes, will take time.

Comments

Shinedownfan 2 years, 3 months ago

Okay, dont renew their contracts in May... that's the cheapest way out, right? They get 1/2 a year free pay. And all them salaries totalled will be cheaper than tribunals??? If so, just make sure their names are sent to the surrounding counties so that they dont get another job teaching.

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waltspecht 2 years, 3 months ago

Make sure they have a trackable, productive work assignment that will be labor intensive. Assign a Supervisor that isn't indebted to them to monitor their daily activity. If they fail to perform, give them the required warning and paperwork. Work it into a legal termination through progressive discipline. That way they will be doing something for their pay that actually benefits the system. If they don't want to do the assigned task, they can always resign.

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TheBoss 2 years, 3 months ago

Not only do we have to pay the salary of the cheaters, the 13 EIP teachers reassigned to the classroom will loose their funding under the federal program and the kids that they are tutoring will no longer have the help they need. So that $77,000 a month (minus the principals' pay) will double. Number 34 told us in December that he has a "Plan", well now we know what it was..."Nothing". Coleman said it may take 6 months to a year to reslove all the cases. Sure it will..its called billable hours for the Attorney. Follow the money.

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dingleberry 2 years, 3 months ago

We have heard a lot of talk but not much of value on the tribunals. One thing never mentioned is how long it will take to dispose of "a case". Can a case be heard by one member or is it more than one? Does a "hearing" last one day or is it like when lawyers drag out a court case? How much time will be allowed after the hearing to do whatever is required to complete paperwork? From what we have been told, we're "going to need a bigger boat" to handle all these sharks but little has been done to quantify size.

WALB reported salaries for the "accused" are $77,000 a month which is direct pay only. I think Shinedownfan nailed this one--terminate their contracts in May. .Let them sit in a room downtown at the admin building and watch training films so they can be "properly supervised" by the Murfree crowd. A 9:00-5:00 job with no papers to grade or tests to take--or handle. Perhaps a lecture or two from Rev Bush on ethics or morality

Trying to take this gaggle through the legal wickets hoping for a termination will be a nightmare financially and otherwise. Warehouse them and terminate en masse--the easiest and cheapest way to go. Chalk it up to a very bad experience and try to quit hiring so man friends, relatives, and ASU grads.

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waltspecht 2 years, 3 months ago

All citizens will have to watch this release of evidance thing. It could "ACCIDENTLY" result in voiding any criminal prosecution. Plus, these are normal employment contracts, they can be voided due to cause. Moral Terpitude and bringing disgrace upon the employer are normally listed in such contracts.

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waltspecht 2 years, 3 months ago

You know if this follows the problems New York City is having terminating Teachers, expect to see them developing and treating all sorts of Illnesses and injuries. Seems New York City has them report to a downtown office where they do nothing for eight hours. Some of them have been drawing full pay for three years.

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