Assistant Superintendent Kenneth Goseer talks to school board members who are members of the board's public safety committee Thursday.
ALBANY Assistant Dougherty County Schools Superintendent Kenneth Goseer told a School Board Safety and Security Committee Thursday that the system had reimbursed bond money to the family of a student who was arrested by the DCSS police department.
"I am aware of one incident where that happened," Goseer said when asked by board member David Maschke whether system funds had been used to reimburse a student's bail money. "There was an incident of profanity directed towards a teacher at Dougherty (High) and she was arrested and sent to jail while wearing her ROTC uniform. We issued a check to the parents to reimburse then for the bond money for what we considered to be a bad arrest."
DCSS Executive Director of Finance and Operations Robert Lloyd confirmed that a check had been issued, but when asked the amount and who authorized the payment, Lloyd responded, "You'll have to ask Mr. Goseer about that."
When asked for his opinion on the reimbursement, DCSS Attorney Tommy Coleman told the committee that it was against the law to use school system money for anything other than educational purposes.
The Herald learned late Thursday afternoon that the Dougherty County District Attorney's office is now aware of the incident and is exploring if any violations of the law took place.
Board member Carol Tharin, also a member of the committee, was incensed by the admission.
"Somebody had to authorize this check," Tharin said. "I want to know who authorized it, the amount and will we be reimbursed?"
Maschke then instructed Goseer to ask Superintendent Joshua Murfree for a report on the matter, including reimbursement plans. Goseer agreed.
"I don't think this thing was very well thought out at all," Tharin fumed.
Goseer responded, "Well, I have just the opposite opinion. You don't understand the number of phone calls we get every day."
Maschke then expressed concern that the administration was acting on its own.
"I don't think the administration should be making unilateral decisions," Maschke said. "It's mind-boggling to me. We need to let people know we don't do that (bail reimbursement) anymore."
The revelation comes days after the school system was forced to turn over emails that showed Goseer, who was believed to have been working on behalf of Murfree, ordered DCSS Police Chief Troy Conley to run all warrants for arrest of DCSS students by Murfree's office before executing them.
When Conley balked at the idea, Murfree responded in an email to Conley saying that he just wanted to be kept informed of the department's activities because he was catching heat from people who he did not identify because he didn't know an incident had happened or because they thought he knew things that he didn't.
"I told the superintendent that he doesn't have the authority to tell the school police who to arrest or not arrest. The law is clear," Coleman said. "Our police department is certified by the state and swore oaths to uphold the laws of the state of Georgia. School system policy does not supersede that authority."
That prompted Maschke to ask, "So the school system police is an autonomous authority?"
To which Coleman replied, "This is correct. They have the authority to interpret the law as they see it."
"This whole incident is old news and overblown," Goseer said, referring to the March 15 emails. "It was sparked by the School Board wanting to be informed prior to the media getting it. We simply wanted to be notified of warrants and arrests."
Mascke interpreted the emails differently, specifically referring to a message from Gosser to Conley that read: "As of today March 15, 2012, there will be no more warrants or arrest made unless authorized by Superintendent Joshua Murfree. Please inform ALL Officers."
"I think the email is very clear," Maschke said. "We want make sure everyone is on the same page with this and understand that the superintendent doesn't have the authority on warrants or arrests."
Conley said his office has always provided the administration with brief incident summaries.
The meeting was delayed for nearly 30 minutes because Maschke said Conley and Assistant Chief J.C. Phillips had not been informed by Murfree that their presence was requested.