After having covered the education beat for slightly more than a year, I have watched the Dougherty County School System stumble from one crisis to another without solving even one of the quickly mounting major problems facing it and an increasingly overwhelmed administrative staff.
There’s really no easy way to say this, but right now the DCSS is a grease fire, and no one in charge seems to have a clue how to dampen the flames.
Much of the blame has to fall at the feet of system Superintendent Joshua Murfree, who last night at a special called board meeting recommended the nonrenewal of 24 teachers and two principals named in the governor’s CRCT cheating report.
The decision to nonrenew was not a surprise, but the night was filled with others.
The board broke down into an acrimonious exchange between Assistant Superintendent Kenneth Goseer and board members Carol Tharin and David Maschke in regard to the DCSS reimbursement of $404 in bail money to the parents of a Dougherty High student who was arrested and jailed by school police for disrupting a classroom and cursing a teacher.
Tharin, Maschke, Chairman James Bush and system attorney Tommy Colemen stated time and again that the reimbursement was an illegal use of school system funds.
Yet an agitated Goseer refused to acknowledge that simple fact, instead claiming the DCSS has used general fund money in the past to pay other claims “for the children and to protect the Dougherty County School System.”
At one point during Monday night’s board meeting, Tharin pointed at Goseer and said, “You are not a lawyer.”
To which Goseer responded, “And nor are you.”
The answer to the question of who actually authorized the checks was never answered Monday night, and fingers were pointed all around.
But much of the blame seemed to fall on former DCSS Executive Director of Finance and Operations Robert Lloyd, who was demoted to director of supply services.
Lloyd’s demotion was a stunner. The system is facing an anticipated $9.6 million shortfall in FY 2012-13, and a balanced budget is due in Atlanta on June 30. Now the man who has put together the last 10 or more DCSS budgets is somewhere counting pencils.
Several board members would not go on the record, but opinions ranged from Lloyd being the fall guy for the bond reimbursement fiasco to the fact the system is looking at yet another budget year with 10 teacher furlough days.
Another shocker was the demotion of Assistant Superintendent Diane Daniels from director of curriculum to social studies coordinator. Daniels is no stranger to controversy. She was fired last year, then rehired days later.
That’s the way things seem to work at the DCSS.
So, when the smoke finally settled at the end of the evening, 26 teachers and administrators had been nonrenewed; two members of the superintendent’s cabinet were sacked, and an assistant superintendent displayed a stunning lack of knowledge in regard to state law.
So where does the school system go from here? Anybody got a fire extinguisher handy?
Email Terry Lewis at