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Murfree told to tighten guidelines on contracts

Dougherty County School Board Chairman James Bush, left and board member Velvet Riggins chat prior to the BOE meeting Monday night. The board discussed problems brought brought to light  by DCSS attorney Tommy Coleman's report on Darrell Sabbs' and Associates controversial consulting contract with the school system.

Dougherty County School Board Chairman James Bush, left and board member Velvet Riggins chat prior to the BOE meeting Monday night. The board discussed problems brought brought to light by DCSS attorney Tommy Coleman's report on Darrell Sabbs' and Associates controversial consulting contract with the school system.

ALBANY -- Dougherty County School Superintendent Joshua Murfree spent much of Monday night's school board meeting on his heels fielding questions about the latest troubles dogging the school system.

Most of the discussion centered around how system consultant contracts are awarded and monitored.

The issue came to a head after DCSS attorney Tommy Coleman's report that was issued late last week citing a general "failure in oversight" in the awarding of a $91,000 contract to Darrell Sabbs and Associates which failed to get board approval, in direct violation of existing board policy.

Sabbs' contract for a weekend program to teach at-risk DCSS fourth-graders came to light last month when documents revealed that Federal Programs Director Betty Graper entered into the contract on behalf of the system in September of last year without the required board approval.

Sabbs and Murfree are friends, with both serving in the 100 Black Men of Albany organization.

"I am not giving Dr. Graper a pass on this one," Board Chairman James Bush, who requested the Coleman report, said. "But I have known Betty Graper for a long time and for her to do something of this magnitude without some guidance is something I find very hard to believe."

Board member Anita Williams-Brown added, "I thing we need to go back and look at all our consultant contracts."

This brought a sharp response from Murfree.

"Let's go back 10 years, all the public is hearing right now is two years," Murfree, who has been superintendent for the past two years, said. "I can tell you right now that we have already started the process of looking at past consultant contracts."

Board member David Maschke provided his own 151-page consultants report to the board.

"This has been going on for years," Maschke said. "It is part of a systematic effort to find jobs for family and friends within the school system. What we have here is a wholesale disregard of good business practices and is a culture of looking after your friends and relatives."

Board member Carol Tharin, obviously angry, said "we need to do something concrete. We need to show the public that we are taking this thing very seriously."

Tharin then attempted to make a motion requiring Murfree to take action in the face of evidence, but was cut short by Bush.

"I don't think we need a motion," Bush said. "The superintendent has already said he will take action in regard to this matter and we should give him that opportunity. If he takes no action, then the board certainly will."

Earlier in the evening, system Finance Director Kenneth Dyer told the board his office is in the process of putting together a database to meet a Georgia Department of Education request in regard to free and reduced lunch applications from DCSS employees who have dependents in the system.

The GADOE wants to cross reference the salaries of employees who have dependent children in the DCSS to state incomes to see if any questionable FRM free or reduced (FRM) meals.

More than 82 percent of the more than 16,300 students qualify for FRM, and those numbers are used by the state to allocate Federal Title I and IDEA money to Georgia's school districts. The state has expressed concern as to the accuracy of numbers provided by the system.

"We are going to have to cross-reference three separate databases (employees names and salaries, dependents and stated household incomes) with about 3,000 cross-matches to the dependents list then with the FRM applications," Dyer said. "We will provide the DOE with this database and they will then check questionable applications for verification for cause."

Comments

MRKIA 1 year, 9 months ago

NOW MURFREE SAYS HE WANTS TO LOOK AT PAST CONTRACTS AFTER HE HAS ALREADY LOOKED OUT FOR HIS HOME-BOY SABBS WITH A NO BID, NO SPECFICS SWEETHEART CONTRACT AGAINST DCSS POLICY. WHAT WILL LOOKING BACK ACCOMPLISH? IT MIGHT MAKE THE DCSS LOOK EVEN MORE CORRUPT. MAKE SABBS ACCOUNT FOR THE MONEY AND RECOVER THE EXCESS. NOW WHO'S GETTING FIRED?

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sandtrap 1 year, 9 months ago

You can bet that he and Bush will get their stories straight, and that it will come out smoooooooth . Betty Graper MUST be forced to reveal who authorized the $91,000 expenditure.

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waltspecht 1 year, 9 months ago

Just seeing this picture tells me the Govenor is dragging his feet on the Riggins women. I guess someone called in another political favor, or threatened exposure. I still think that is what happened when they wanted to cancel the CRCT investigation. I believe the Govenor and his relationships need to be investigated.

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Bubbavet_rureel 1 year, 9 months ago

Look at what we have wasted, to gain what - higher legal bills, local ans state.

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Albanite 1 year, 9 months ago

You're right Walt. And Deal is no stranger to graft. Just ask the banking/money-laundering buddies in North Georgia who put him into office.

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Bubbavet_rureel 1 year, 9 months ago

Go back 10 years, please include what we have paid in legal fees to our part-time attorney, the numbers will make you wonder. Take the blinders off!

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Albanite 1 year, 9 months ago

Apparently he's the only one who is looking out for the taxpayer.

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Bubbavet_rureel 1 year, 9 months ago

What are we paying annually in legal fees? Thps taxpayer would like to know?

I'm not afraid to ask.

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waltspecht 1 year, 9 months ago

You might want to ask what the City has paid in out of court settlements because it was cheaper than going to trial. Now that figure could set your old heart to palpetating. Especislly when you realize how frivilous the suits were. Just another Lawyer working the system, on both sides in this case.

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Bubbavet_rureel 1 year, 9 months ago

Regardless, we're paying the bill. The question is, how much have we paid in the last ten years?

Can you help answer this question?

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waltspecht 1 year, 9 months ago

Remember, justice has it's price. In this Country it has become a high price due to the excessive number of Lawyers we have, and continue to produce. Plus the ones we are dumb enough to elect to Political Office where they can write laws that are GRAY enough to assure the need for a Lawyer. Instead of just saying you won't steal, they have placed all sorts of limits and rulings on the degree of stealing. Just like murder. There shouldn't be any differance if one kills a Policeman, or an ordinary citizen. A Life is a Life.

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stc1993 1 year, 9 months ago

Bubba, go to Pine Ave it's taxpayer money. I'm sure it's public record.

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bigbob 1 year, 9 months ago

100 black men of Albany helping each other screw taxpayers. Just like the comments yesterday now their in charge they can do what they want.

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jglass 1 year, 9 months ago

Deal....................where are you and what are you waiting for? This is beyond ridiculous.

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sandtrap 1 year, 9 months ago

It seems that Tharin was about to make a motion to fire/suspend Betty Graper, and was shouted down by Bush. Bush and Murfree need to get their stories aligned.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 9 months ago

Murfree's response is priceless: "Let's go back 10 years on contracts. In fact, we've already started doing the 10-year analysis" Now THAT'S a waste of time and money. Start with the CURRENT, ACTIVE CONTRACTS (the ones that could be affected, changed, or ended thus saving money IMMEDIATELY!) But no, he's going back 10 years and starting there. What a GENIUS!!

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Jacob 1 year, 9 months ago

That is the equivalent of "It's Bush's fault."

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chinaberry25 1 year, 9 months ago

I have been told this started under Sally W's watch. Whether this is true is not clear. Either way, it has continued. Is that Sabbs a certified teacher? It would seem that he would have to be himself.

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 9 months ago

Really, Bush, let Murfree have a chance? He has already proven he cannot handle the job and is doing things illegal. The Motion should have been made at Tharin's request. Thank you, Tharin, for standing up.

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Terry.Lewis 1 year, 9 months ago

I think that rather than 'let Murfree have a chance,' Bush is laying all responsibility directly into the superintendent's lap.

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 9 months ago

That is very, very, very dangerous.

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MRKIA 1 year, 9 months ago

I'D SAY DANGEROUS FOR MURFREE. HE'S IN OVER HIS HEAD. IF HE'S SHOT IN THE FOOT ONE MORE TIME, HE WONT HAVE ANY TOES LEFT.

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outsidelookinin 1 year, 9 months ago

Precisely. Put it in his lap to either lead, as he should, or they will get him out of the way. Give him enough rope to hang himself. To this point, all blame has been thrown at others. It's time for the leadership (I use that term lightly) to begin sharing in the responsibility of its actions.

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straightface 1 year, 9 months ago

They wanted to scandalized those teachers that were falsely accused and now they are reaping what they sowed.... what out. more to come.. when you wrong people God will make sure you see how it feels.. The Board (Murfree) caused those teachers much embarassement and shame.. now its there time to see how it all feels..

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 9 months ago

The cheating teachers shamed themselves. Fifteen Trillion to One odds that some teachers cheated. They shamed themselves.

But you prefer to make and excuse, blame somebody else. God wants honesty not revenge.

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straightface 1 year, 9 months ago

well watch all them get there jobs back.. And you are right God wants honesty thats why they are all (the board) being brought to open shame cause they shamed teachers(wrongly).. Just about all them are already back exept for a handful and they are on there way back too.(even in ATL)

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 9 months ago

Unfortunately only the dishonest ones who would not confess what they did. The ones who confessed were dealt with immediately and they will not be back, here or anywhere else. If these guilty cheaters are returned to work, then hope is lost and the children WILL have their example for how to live their lives......dishonestly.

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waltspecht 1 year, 9 months ago

Those charged weren't charged on a whim, they did something. They may have dealed themselves out, that is also a possibility. You would be suprised the deal you can get when you know where the body is buried, or you threaten to go public

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 9 months ago

How can the Chairman deny a Board member the right to make an official Motion? The Motion could be (would have been no doubt in a 4-3 result) voted down but the Member has the right to make a Motion. Roberts Rules of Order......or don't they follow those rules either?

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Albanite 1 year, 9 months ago

The organization "100 Black Men of (insert city name here)" is a front for corruption and graft almost everywhere it shows up - usually in municipalities which are run by blacks. Remember Maynard Jackson and Bill Campbell? This organization was used by its members to foster some of the worst corruption scandals that Atlanta, Washington DC, New Orleans and Detroit have been through in the past 25 years. Albany is no different and its time to revoke the local chapter's charter.

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waltspecht 1 year, 9 months ago

Maybe STRIKE was right. He always explained Dawson Politics by saying he would rather have a Black Man stealing and profiting from their elected or appointed position than a White man**.

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Cartman 1 year, 9 months ago

Murfree's response is to go back 10 years? As Superintendent, doesn't he have access to that data? He knows its there. If it goes back to Whatley and Culbreath, we want to see it. But it is no defense to cronyism; just because "my predecessors did it too". Here's an easy solution: Make the records available to the Herald. All of them. For however long you have them. These are not privileged records. They are records of contracts paid by public funds. The public has a right to see them. Transparency. That is what will fix this problem.

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erock 1 year, 9 months ago

Are you kidding me? I can't believe what I am reading. Asking Dr. Murfree to tighten guidelines or anything else for that matter, is like asking the fox to guard the henhouse. How long are we gonna stripe his legs before we bring the hammer down on his criminal empire. I know that not all DCSS are in on the gig and face retribution for blowing the whistle, but this is blatant and wanton violations. Ask the citizens of Chicago what happens when this type of behavior goes on upimpeded

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Bubbavet_rureel 1 year, 9 months ago

Check our legal fees, follow the money trail. Counsel is to save money, we're defending a like of accountabilty?

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Jacob 1 year, 9 months ago

English isn't your strong suit, is it?

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dianewilliams 1 year, 9 months ago

That's what happens when you do wrong. All of those teachers and paraprofessionals in the CRCT investigation weren't guilt maybe some of them but not all. I see where they didn't give the paraprofessionals a chance to say anything or defend themselves saying what a first graders a 6yr old said come on. Tommy Coleman fired every last one of them because it was in their budget plan to get rid of 9 paraprofessionals for 2012 and 2013 DCSS budget plan.I feel like they should of had a chance to defend themselves, but instead you dcss has messed up their livelyhood. Oh ,by the way did anyone no that one of the teachers that was reinstated went to Tommy Colemans church. Yes, they said the children told on her but, she got reinstated. I see friends and family all the way. DCSS you want prosper until you start doing the right things.

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MRKIA 1 year, 9 months ago

ARE YOU A TEACHER IN THE DCSS?

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 9 months ago

Starting to understand the nature of the Problem Before Us, MRKIA????

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stc1993 1 year, 9 months ago

If she's a teacher I'm the pope.

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MRKIA 1 year, 9 months ago

SISTER: I'VE KNOWN ALL ALONG BUT I'M STILL WAITING FOR HER ANSWER.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 9 months ago

Throw the rascals out! Governor Deal, SACS, here is your que. Suspend the school board and administration get the bums out now!

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rock 1 year, 9 months ago

POSTED MONDAY TODAY IS WEDNESDAY....

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