ALBANY Citing a "lack of oversight" into how consultants are hired by the Dougherty County School System, DCSS attorney Tommy Coleman issued a report to Board members Friday in which he issued an opinion that a $91,000 contract given to consultant Darrell Sabbs was in direct violation of established board policy.
The issue of Sabbs' contract came to light last month when documents revealed that Federal Programs Director Betty Graper entered into the contract on behalf of the system on Sept. 30, 2011 without the required board approval.
At that point, Board Chairman James Bush instructed Coleman to look into the contract and report back to the board.
The two-page contract between Sabbs, community benefits coordinator at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, and the DCSS called for the establishment of a seven-month "Reading Right Program," called the "Saturday Academy," which was designed to improve reading skills of 80 DCSS fourth-graders who scored between 790 and 810 on CRCT reading areas.
The twice-monthly program was held at Darton College and employed six certified teachers and four paraprofessionals from the DCSS, who were paid $25 per hour.
The system, in turn, paid Sabbs $6,500 per session, or $13,000 per month for seven months.
Graper provided a quarterly budget for the program which included:
— Staff and Instruction — $19,467;
— Materials — $6,667;
— Transportation — $1,500;
— Awards, t-shirts, etc. — $2,667;
— Meeting Space — $3,200;
— Guest Speakers — $1,500;
— Parental Training — $1,000.
The report noted that attendance in the program was irregular and never approached the projected 80 students at any one time. Although requested, Graper never provided a complete attendance roster.
The program was funded with Title I money.
Individual class attendance numbers were provided by DCSS interim Director of Curriculum Merita Jones. Those numbers indicated that attendance ranged from 10 to 15 students per class, but toward the end of the program those numbers "fell off dramatically."
Coleman said he requested more detailed information from Graper and Sabbs in addition to personal interviews.
The report noted Graper "failed to be fully responsive" to Coleman's inquiry and appeared at her interview with her husband and attorney, Maurice King. The interview was canceled.
Sabbs did not respond to Coleman's requests.
"As a result of the unwillingness of Dr. Graper and Mr. Sabbs to provide full and complete information on the relationship between Sabbs and Associates and the Dougherty County School System, it is impossible to fully complete this investigation and provide the board with the complete analysis of this program," Coleman wrote.
Calls requesting comment from Graper today were being directed to her voice mail.