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Graper responds to Title I issues

ALBANY -- During the past few weeks, Dougherty County School System Federal Programs Director Betty Graper has avoided comment and media requests for interviews as the system deals with a Georgia Department of Education probe into questionable Title I expenditures.

The DOE last week delayed nearly $12 million in Title I and Title II funding until the system responds satisfactorily to two requests:

n Verify the accuracy of free and reduced-cost lunch (FRM) applications from school system employees with dependents in the system. The state department uses FRM numbers to allocate federal funds.

n Provide supporting documentation to justify 34 questioned Title I expenditures for Fiscal Year 2012, which ended June 30. The expenses, selected randomly, ranged from $22 for emergency cards to $91,000 paid to consultant Darrell Sabbs and Associates. The expenses in question totaled more than $142,000

Graper broke her silence Monday in a lengthy email sent to Superintendent Joshua Murfree, the School Board and the state Department of Education, among others. The Herald obtained a copy of the email Thursday.

In the email, Graper said she had provided the requested documentation to the DOE, which later said it would delay disbursement of funding because the documentation was incomplete.

"As an employee, I thought I was in compliance with all policies and procedures of the Dougherty County School System until I found myself publicly humiliated in the local media (newspaper and TV stations)," Graper wrote. "This incident was originated by a board member. Because it was not brought to my attention prior to it going to the media, I was tried and convicted in the media. As a result, legal counsel was obtained to protect myself from wrongful employer practices based on the DCSS Personnel Handbook (Protection -- GAEA) ... I do not feel safe working in my current environment."

The incident in question is the Sabbs' contract, which was in violation of DCSS contract policy which states: "The Dougherty County Board of Education shall approve the execution of all contracts of any kind and shall authorize their execution by the chairman, or in his absence the vice chairman and superintendent. Provided, however, the superintendent is authorized to enter into contracts with an aggregate amount of $40,000 without prior board approval of such contracts have been provided for in the annual budget ..."

Sabbs contract, which totaled $91,000 for a Saturday reading program, was not in the FY 2012 budget and did not go before the board for approval. The only signatures on the two-page contract were that of Graper and Sabbs.

"As an employee, I was not given the opportunity to speak on this alleged violation prior to my name being displayed by the local media," Graper wrote. "None of my immediate supervisors came to me to address any issues concerning alleged violations. Furthermore I was not afforded an opportunity to defend myself before my immediate supervisors or any board members prior to the May 31, 2012 newspaper article."

The Herald article included details on the Sabbs contract.

"The disgrace and shame that has fallen upon the Dougherty County School System is unfortunate for the DCSS student body, but most importantly a disgrace for the DCSS employees and all stake holders," wrote Graper, "As an employee I truly understand the severity of the CRTC scandal and the CNS alleged (lunch) fraudulence, but as an employee of this system, I had nothing to do with any of these and am seeking guidance on how I was conveniently targeted, humiliated, tried and convicted by my public peers all because I was only doing my job."

Graper closed by asking that the board furnish training and an updated clear and concise policy manual for future purchases and contracts. In addition she asked for a compensation guide for educational programs/consultants.

Comments

Sister_Ruby 2 years, 1 month ago

OH you gotta go get that Legal Counsel.....yes you do. What would we do without them ambulance chasers? "Unsafe work environment" Translation: I got me some money coming! Cut me a check!

Check this: It's YOUR job as an employee to understand what is within legal boundaries. Why else would you be employed to do the job you have? Unless you are unqualified and untrained and unprepared to do the job you were hired to do? Do you expect somebody to hand you an instruction booklet on how to do your job, covering any and all situations? If so, then you are unqualified to hold the position!

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redneckgourmet 2 years, 1 month ago

Exactly right, Sister. Just like the majority of the population around here, she saw an opportunity to become a victim and now she wants a settlement. Poor, naive woman getting taken advantage of and abused by the man. So disgusting. Anyone in business who has authority to sign contracts for his/her company knows their boundaries on giving thier approval to that contract. Which is it, Ms. Graper? Are you too inept to perform your duties, or are you a criminal who purposefully defrauded the DCSS? Either way, you shouldn't be at that position.

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stc1993 2 years, 1 month ago

"I had nothing to do with any of these and am seeking guidance on how I was conveniently targeted, humiliated, tried and convicted by my public peers all because I was only doing my job."

Ms. Graper, You were not doing your job. How could you sign off on a contract that was suppose to be okayed by the BOE if you were doing your job? You would have know that this is illegal & a criminal offense in my book. That's why you took an attorney to your meeting with Mr. Coleman.

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waltspecht 2 years, 1 month ago

I believe the Title funding criteria is covered by the published program guidelines. As to the Policies associated with DCSS, they are also written and should be reviewed yearly to assure compliance. That is the responsibility that comes with the position. To just take the easy way out, and continue bad practice without question shows your lack of ability in the position you hold.

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chinaberry25 2 years, 1 month ago

The monkey is on your back. You knew you were doing wrong, and it was in violation of the school board rules. Hence you will suffer. The good old boy system stops at your lap.

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ontario1966 2 years, 1 month ago

Graper is being like everyone else in Albany? Corrupt and handouts! Graper you need to bow your head in shame! And hopefully soon you will be serving at the soup line along with your other two buddies Riggins and Baker!!

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RedEric 2 years, 1 month ago

AND! what is the name of your immediate supervisor who did NOT come to you with notification of this fraudulent act? I cannot believe your supervisor did not know what you were doing, so let's add his/her name to the complaint. Nobody in the DCSS complained until it hit the Media? Thank you for the information Ms. Graper. Oh by the way anything and everything you say may be used against you in a court of law.

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Shinedownfan 2 years, 1 month ago

I was taught by Mr. Graper at Albany High, loved him! My brother used to work with his son in the DCSS Technology Dept., loved him! Could Betty Graper be a scape goat? Then again, like all other school system abuses, maybe they have gotten away with it for so many years, they didnt think they would ever get caught.

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whattheheck 2 years, 1 month ago

Don't worry, all the Grapers were on the DCSS payroll in some fashion during 2011, latest year one can see. And Betty? Would you believe $105,000 in 2011 without the county supplement? For this amount of money I expect one to read--and follow--the rules. The husband got around $12K described as "miscellaneous activities". The stepkson got $15K for being a "parent coordinator", whatever that is, and was listed as one to work for Sabbs on his 2012 contract which she awarded.

School systems in general have been allowed to become autonomous, answering only to themselves. BOEs only get what the systems want to be seen. There is no danger in doing things wrong because there is no one to stop them. Have you read the State Auditor's reports on the DCSS? Don't waste your time, there never are findings of any significance.

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Shinedownfan 2 years, 1 month ago

"The husband got around $12K described as "miscellaneous activities". The stepson got $15K for being a "parent coordinator", whatever that is, and was listed as one to work for Sabbs on his 2012 contract which she awarded."

Wow... how do you get all this? I'm astounded at the "alterior motives" coming to light here.

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billybob 2 years, 1 month ago

Yes. The ulterior motives as well.

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Shinedownfan 2 years, 1 month ago

my bad... knew i should have used my ipad, it corrects spelling automatically.

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TheBoss 2 years, 1 month ago

Is this a coindence or a plan? Graper and Sabbs have the same attorney, Maurice King. That way neither Graper or Sabbs can implicate either one for wrong doing. Go figure. Why didn't Brimberry go Pro-Bono for them like he did for Riggins?

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tywebb 2 years, 1 month ago

wah wah. quit your crying and accept responsibility for your ineptness OR illegal actions. That's what we try to teach the children, but when they see all of these adults not being responsible and blaming others, well, guess what they're going to do.

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dingleberry 2 years, 1 month ago

It is always interesting to me that one who does not follow the rules always likes to hide behind rules when it is convenient. Pick and choose, so it seems.

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Albanite 2 years, 1 month ago

Anyone who is even remotely qualified for the job of school Superintendent knows that purchasing policy manuals must be updated each year. Reviewing and updating policy manuals is one of the reasons we have a superintendent. He's an abject failure who knows nothing about administering a lemonade stand, much less a school system - and especially a school system in crisis.

How long do we let this horrible joke play on before we get serious and put some qualified people at the DCSS?

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Cartman 2 years, 1 month ago

...and the Dougherty School System soap opera continues.

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Progressive 2 years, 1 month ago

If those who are responsible for following policies are found to be negligent by signing a contract that should have had a prior BOE approval, then they should be disciplined. But if they are not disciplined and held accountable, then the School Board and Murfree must be held accountable for their negligence. Corruption and bad decisions seems to happen way too often for this School Board and nothing seems to change. It is time for major changes at the top to let the innocent hard working teachers know that they are appreciated, but the corrupt behaviour that is rampant has got to STOP and will not be tolerated. To do nothing only makes others think they can also get away with breaking the rules without impunity

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chinaberry25 2 years, 1 month ago

At least 3 people were in on this. Sabbs, Murfree and Graper. All three heads should roll. Do I smell Lloyd feeding all this info. He should.

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athens 2 years, 1 month ago

Wow again and again and again!!! we dont have to abide by the rules,,,sos,,Albany ga Minority leaders,,, where are you??? Nothing but corruption and does anyone have the ,,,, to stand up and make them pay the price for incompetency??!! Not my fault I gave away $91,000?????? Well who the hecks fault is it?
Mr Graper was a good teacher though.

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 1 month ago

Does anybody see the problem with the fact that the "Dougherty County School System Federal Programs Director" does not know the rules of engagement regarding how the Federal Program funds should be used? "Director" aka the one in charge of the Federal Programs spending.

Hello??? The Mall is Open but there don't seem to be any Shoppers!!

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RedEric 2 years, 1 month ago

One more thing. If the school board member had NOT reveiled the crime to the media then he/she would have been in for a share of the coming penalty. You see doctor, a position with high pay means high responsibility and liability. As Sister says, you are responsible to know the rules therefore you are liable, alone, and you will receive penalty, alone.

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B4it 2 years, 1 month ago

She would be responsible alone, unless Murfree was the one directing her to move forward with the contract.

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LoveLee 2 years, 1 month ago

This incident is yet another red flag for the government in Atlanta... we are HERE! SEE US and come help! How long can this unprofessional, unethical, lazy, thieving, cheating, ignorant behavior go on before the state steps in and just revamps everything? There is a serious TREND here people!

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Amazed2 2 years, 1 month ago

So Grabers defense is I did not know what I was doing!! Nobody told me I could not spend $91,000 dollars on Me. Sabbs. Guess it never occurred to ask or check to see if he had a Dougherty County Business License. By the way the Tax and Business License have people with badges and guns that go out and bust non licensed contractors or others and shut them down and write them tickets for a court date?? Has anyone bothered to write him a ticket and charge Mr. Sabbs. A friend came here to do some work near ASU. The Code and License Cop walked into the Dunes area and wrote him a ticket. Judge fined him $400 plus made him get a license. I guess if Graber really did not know the very basic of doing business them you have to also look at Old #34. After all he is steering the ship.

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MRKIA 2 years, 1 month ago

BUBBAVET_RU: READ MR. KNIGHTON'S ARTICLE? DON'T TELL ME YOU MISSED IT. SOUND FAMILIAR? SPEAK UP.

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