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DCSS's Mosely sees a light at the end of the tunnel for troubled system

ALBANY, Ga. -- As the Dougherty County School System's spring break begins, the district still faces much work to right the troubled district, which has been constantly battered over the past two years.

With issues ranging from looming disciplinary tribunals, Federal Title I problems, an internal free and reduced meal (FRM) probe, a dispute with Albany State University over the future of Albany Early College, school closures, E-rate reimbursement issues and a slew of possible non-contract renewals this month, Interim Superintendent Butch Mosely has a crowded plate sitting before him.

But it's better than it was.

"Let's put it this way," Mosely said, "We're still in a pretty deep hole. But on the bright side, we're no longer digging down, we're digging up."

The system's troubles have been well documented, beginning with a Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) cheating scandal in 2009, followed by the FRM fraud arrests of Board member Velvet Riggins and former Morningside principal Gloria Baker in late 2011.

Riggins was acquitted by a jury last year and Baker faces an April 29 hearing before Dougherty Superior Court Judge Willie Lockett.

Many of the system's current woes stem from those two issues, which brought increased state and federal scrutiny into the county.

So, where does the system stand today?

FRM PROBE

After the Riggins and Baker situations the Georgia Department of Education ordered the DCSS to review it's FRM application process. Child nutrition expert Ruth Gordon, hired at the behest of the DOE, was brought into oversee the process.

The system reviewed the applications from its 2,400-plus employees who had filed for FRM assistance. According to sources, 16 were found to have filed fraudulent applications involving 21 children.

Mosely will have to review these case before recommending dismissal, suspension or nothing at all.

Resolving the FRM application process to the state's satisfaction is key to another issue:

E-RATE FUNDING

The District owes Albany Water, Gas and Light 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.

The School Board recently approved $60,000 monthly payments to WG&L to clear up the arrears.

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 FRM issues.

FRM numbers are used to determine the percentage of federal funding the system receives. Once the FRM situation is resolves, USAC will reimburse the district.

TITLE I MONEY

The district has already reimbursed the state more than $700,000 for questionable federal Title I, Part A expenditures for FY11, FY12 and FY13.

Mosely and new Interim Title I Director David Coley are hoping that the state DOE had finished their review. But as the state has shown over the past few months there are no guarantees they are satisfied.

All monies reimbursed to the DOE have come from the District's general fund reserve.

Non-Renewals

Mosely's biggest challenge could be in deciding which employee contracts he will recommend not be renewed. Contract renewal letter should go out late this month. Non-contract renewal letters have to go out by May 15.

Sources say Mosley may recommend the non-renewal of as many as nine of the system's 26 principals. A number of assistant principals, administrative staff and teachers could also be on the non-renewal list.

And that leads us to ...

ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNALS

Faced with a slew of probable appeals from CRCT suspensions (by the Professional Standards Commission), FRM discipline and contract non-renewals, the School Board last month unanimously approved creating a pool of retired educators for use on tribunals in disciplinary hearings over the next several months.

The three-person panels are expected to cost $1,500 per day, but will be able to handle the expected workload which would be logistically impossible for the BOE.

The Board would then simply vote up or down on the tribunals recommendations.

Comments

Sister_Ruby 1 year, 4 months ago

Notice how the phrase "bright side" is being worked into lots of articles in the Herald these days?

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FryarTuk 1 year, 4 months ago

It's a subliminal attempt to force us to read the bright side comments and then they will sell more papers. It's a devious plot.

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Terry.Lewis 1 year, 4 months ago

I don't think it's working on Sis ...

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 4 months ago

Re: FRM "Mosely will have to review these case before recommending dismissal, suspension or nothing at all.". Good luck with that! Lesson learned from CRCT cheaters: say nothing and you will be OK.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 4 months ago

This tunnel is so long and so deep.........that light at the end of the tunnel could well be an approaching nuclear train.

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GeeGee 1 year, 4 months ago

Wonder which 9 of the principals will go?

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whattheheck 1 year, 4 months ago

Were the FRM applications reviewed last year's after the ca ca had hit the fan the year before? This would account for the small number, the obvious very hard-core cheaters. What about the applications from parents who were not employed by the DCSS? Sounds like they got and will continue to get a free ride until or unless the meals are linked to those in the welfare system's data base.

Hope Butch looks at the structure of the downtown administration and does a Lizzie Borden on it also. And while at it, how about checking the athletic and IT folks system wide using the fillet knife to trim the fat closer to the bone.

First report card is a "B" since the low hanging fruit is being harvested. Let's keep working for an "A" guys!

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FryarTuk 1 year, 4 months ago

heck: " Sounds like they got and will continue to get a free ride until or unless the meals are linked to those in the welfare system's data base. " Is this a real possibility or a pipe dream?

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Terry.Lewis 1 year, 4 months ago

The USDA will only allow a system to check three percent or 3,000 of its annual FRM applications, and then just for 'irregularities.' A District is, however, allowed to compare FRM apps to its employee database. This is what happened at the DCSS.

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oldster 1 year, 4 months ago

I wish Mr. Mosely and the BOE well. They have a big job ahead of them.

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RedEric 1 year, 4 months ago

Judge Willie Lockett is an unindicted felon. He should recuse himself for anything dealing with the law.

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MRKIA 1 year, 4 months ago

THE TEACHERS CAUGHT UP IN THE CRCT SCANDAL SHOULD PAY ATTENTION TO THE LATEST IN THE ATLANTA SCANDAL FALLOUT. OUCH.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 4 months ago

Why? Nobody in DoCo will ever do jack squat about it from here on out. We managed to get an entire tribunal process to turn a blind eye with their mindless process. Dekalb County's DA is the one who charged those teachers and there is a principal that "could go to jail for 45 years". What did we do? Bloody nothing unless somebody confessed. Errrbodddyyy else? Just laugh all the way to the bank and to church on Sunday.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 4 months ago

Sorry, it was Fulton County. All else correct.

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saveourcity 1 year, 4 months ago

I fail to see why Graper continues to draw a paycheck....Tenure or no Tenure..... How can you screw something up so badly and get away with it?

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RedEric 1 year, 4 months ago

USDA does not allow verification of income for FRM to exceed 3% of the total applicants. This is a prime example of this administration encouraging fraud. In our case, where the probability of widespread fraud is high, we should be allowed to verify up to 100% of the applicants. Especially where property tax payers are financially responsible to pay back moneys based on FRM numbers. Especially in a place where property tax payers comprise a minority of the population. Another thing that is just plain wrong with this government.

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bubbasmithredneck 1 year, 4 months ago

Firing everybody is not the answer either. Some of those people just need to be "repurposed".....

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straightface 1 year, 4 months ago

Why is the board going to pay someone to come in and do the tribunals and then vote up or down on there decision.. they might as well do the tribunals themselves and say the DCSS $1500.oo per day they will spend.. Thats so stupid... How are you going to change the tribunals decision if you were not even in on the case ANYWAY!!

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 4 months ago

I know right? Just let 'em all go on their merry way! Lesson learned...nobody gone talk from here on out!

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