ALBANY, Ga. -- The Dougherty School Board unanimously on Monday approved creating a pool of retired educators for use on tribunals in disciplinary appeal hearings over the next several months.
The panels will hold individual hearings in what is expected to be a rash of appeals after the Georgia Professional Standards Commission is finished handing down certification suspension or revocation decisions in the wake of the DCSS's 2009 CRCT cheating scandal.
The tribunals would also hear employee appeals after the DCSS completes a Free and Reduced Meals (FRM) investigation, and, if as expected, Interim Superintendent Butch Mosely recommends a large number of employee contract non-renewals in May.
Mosely said there were a couple of factors at work in creating the tribunal pool comprised of non-county residents.
"It's difficult to judge someone you might know in the community, are close to or might go to church with," Mosely said. "Another reason is there will likely be a very large number of appeals on the way."
According to sources, the system can expect between 15 and 20 CRCT appeals, as many as 16 from Free and Reduced Meal appeals and as many as 10 to 15 non-renewal appeals.
The sheer number of possible appeals is mind-boggling, said Board member Lane Price.
"While I understand that discipline is an obligation of a school board member, we also have obligations to our jobs," Price said. "The sheer logistics of us holding hearings for so many people would be very, very difficult for us. I think the tribunals would help make it easier for us to make decisions."
In other board action, the group voted unanimously to approve payments of $60,000 a month to Albany Water Gas and Light until E-rate arrears are is covered.
The District owes the utility more than $400,000 for federal E-rate payments which were halted last year after the District's Title I expenditure problems came to light.
Federal E-rate money is used to pay for wireless Internet networking and other technology related expenses.
WG&L Finance Director John Vansant confirmed recently that the utility has been carrying the school system's E-rate debt while the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) and school officials try to resolve their issues.
DCSS Executive Director of Finance and Operations Ken Dyer said the system is currently working with USAC and that he is confident the district will eventually be reimbursed by the agency.