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Murfree ordered overpayment of $250,000, official says.

ALBANY — Dougherty County School Board members learned Wednesday that the School System has overpaid the private administrative firm for its Drop Back In Academy by $250,000 after mislabeling students in the program.

Ken Dyer, chief financial officer for Dougherty schools, told board members that he questioned the invoice from Alternatives Unlimited, the program administrator, and initially refused payment.

Dyer then board members that he was told by then Supt. Joshua Murfree to "honor the invoice," which he did, citing a provision he says existed in the contract that allowed for the superintendent to resolve any invoice disputes with the company — a provision board attorney Tommy Coleman and two board members contend does not exist.

The Drop Back In Academy is designed to reach students ages 16-21 who are high school dropouts and works to help them earn credits they need to graduate from high school. The program is free to the student and is paid for by taking 90 percent of the state FTE (full-time enrollment) funding of about $3,500 per student. The school district receives the remaining 10 percent of the FTE funding.

According to Dyer, Murfree and principals from around the district made the conscious decision to categorize the students who were attending the school as traditional students, which changed the level of FTE funding provided by the state. Georgia pays a different FTE rate for alternative students than regular students — $4,500 to $3,500 respectively.

This was done because Murfree thought categorizing the students as alternative students would hurt the four Dougherty County high schools, Dyer said.

"When they sent the invoice, it was for 90 percent of the alternative rate, which we weren't receiving from the state," Dyer told the board. "We were receiving the regular rate."

Board members appeared stunned when Dyer explained the situation during Wednesday's meeting.

"We specifically worded the language in their contract to avoid this kind of thing," Board Member Darrell Ealum said. "I knew this was going to happen," pointing to a provision in the contract that specifically limits the amount the district can pay Alternatives Unlimited to 90 percent of the funds allotted by the state for the students in the program.

Board Member James Bush asked Dyer who authorized payment after he had initially refused payment.

"It was my supervisor," Dyer responded.

"You mean Mr. (Robert) Lloyd (former financial director)?" Bush asked.

"No, Dr. Murfree," Dyer said.

The revelation prompted Board Chair Carol Tharin to question the need to conduct any further business with the group.

"Seems to me that we need to do away with them," Tharin said, to which Interim Superintendent Butch Mosely said that proposal would be researched to see if it could be done in house by the school system.

The School Board is expected to discuss the program and its future at its June 10 board meeting.

Mosely said that he would consider pursuing some level of legal action against Alternatives Unlimited in hopes of getting the money back.

Comments

LikeItIs 1 year, 2 months ago

We all eagerly await Mr. Murfrees side of this story.

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Amazed2 1 year, 2 months ago

So Correct me if I am reading this incorrectly?? The Chief Financial Officer says DCSS does not Owe a $250,000 (quarter of Million) invoice. Joshua Murfree over rules and approves this?? Man that's crazy? I would think any invoice over a certain amount would as a minimum require the approval of the board? Or multiple signatures. Well looks like Mr Mosley is working on this. I trust it will be resolved even if the DA is needed.

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Amazed2 1 year, 2 months ago

Now its easy to see how funds for Bail and stolen instruments etc were processed

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chinaberry25 1 year, 2 months ago

I really do not completely understand the overpayment. How many students were involved and for how long. I have never heard of this. And why even have it? You can attend a regular school until age 22. The old saying applies, you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink. But are they really earning these credits or just passing along credits.

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Amazed2 1 year, 2 months ago

Since Drop Back generated the invoice and took the money via Murfree is that considered theft by conversion? that is assumming the invoice was not legit????

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agirl_25 1 year, 2 months ago

I wonder who the administrator was of the program. Wonder if it was a friend or family member of the prior super. Never heard of the program before then did a Google. Anytime I see totally free Government paid program I start to sniff the air...for rats.

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VietVet1 1 year, 2 months ago

LOL - shaking head - # 34 strikes again.

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Amazed2 1 year, 2 months ago

You would think as the leader of the DCSS or any system you would as a minimum at least brief the School Board that you have a $250,000 invoice to pay. Even if it was not questionable but for sure if your own supposedly trusted finance director said we don't owe this! Maybe stuff like this is why Robert Lloyd ended up in the basement handing out pencils. He asked too many questions I guess.

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whattheheck 1 year, 2 months ago

Or perhaps he did not ask enough questions, do you think? Most of what we have heard about was on his watch.

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dingleberry 1 year, 2 months ago

The DCSS has been a rudderless ship for so many years that any finding of misuse of money is no surprise. As you will notice, the annual audit by the state auditors has never reported any of what you have read about in the past three years. Nothing, zero, zilch. Why is this? Well, basically, the auditors have been making mandated financial audits concerned with how financial transactions are recorded, in accordance with generally accepted accounting standards blah, blah, and more blah.

What is needed is an operational audit looking at the how and why of DCSS doing business. Are operations being conducted in economical, efficient, and effective? Are managers complying with rules and regulation? With all that has been done wrong within DCSS, it it time for the BOE to have an operational audit conducted even if it must hire a firm to do the work and pick up the tab. But perhaps the state auditors could be persuaded to make an operational audit, they do this type work within state agencies so it is not foreign to them. I would think the state BOE would be most receptive to anything that will identify what is really wrong in DCSS. Ask them!

DCSS has systemic problems in managing and using funds properly and it is high time these problems are identified and corrected.

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Amazed2 1 year, 2 months ago

I think they need a 5 to 10 year Forensic Audit. Let's look a recent and a few years back.

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RedEric 1 year, 2 months ago

That would make a few pairs of eyes grow big!

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jglass 1 year, 2 months ago

WOW!!!! Find Murfree, lock him up and throw away the key is this story is accurate. Who received the money, who signed the check, who authorized payment without anyone else being involved? Lock them up, lock them up, lock them up!!!!

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straightface 1 year, 2 months ago

Lets first find Sally Whatley and lock her up.. she has gotten by with all the CRCT scandal and all.. that all happened when she was superintendent nut got put on Murfree.. why isn't she being held responsible. Everybody wants Murfree held responsible..

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RedEric 1 year, 2 months ago

OK bring her back, put her under oath, and make her testify. Do you think you could handle her answers? The truth will set you free!

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BettyBowTie 1 year, 2 months ago

I want them BOTH held responsible.

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dwiggins6287 1 year, 2 months ago

Straight Face you hit the nail on the head!

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RedEric 1 year, 2 months ago

Thank you again Dr. Mosely! This series of fraudulent acts is theft of the property tax payers of Albany, but what is worse is the theft of opportunities for the children in the DCSS. I hear all of this concern from the parents of the Dougherty County School System for the children. You should be enraged about this mass of wrongdoing.......silence?

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dingleberry 1 year, 2 months ago

I wonder when this was paid. If you search for payments to this company in FYs 2009-2012 in all counties in the state,the highest payment during that time by any county was less than $90,000 and total payments for all years are well less than $250,000. No payments were shown for DCSS (open.georgia.gov) There aren't many payments statewide and most are relatively insignificant. Secretary of State's Office has listing on a Maryland company with this name. Is there a signed contract for work with this company? How did we get hooked for $250,000 in the first place. Need more details on this one.

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iko 1 year, 2 months ago

The Greg Edwards DA's office is corrupt and was forever tainted by the Ken Hodges filth that controlled it and perverted it for so long. It will NEVER---REPEAT---NEVER launch a serious prosecution of this case. Does anyone want to take a bet on this?

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whattheheck 1 year, 2 months ago

There may not be anything to prosecute. A lot has to be done to substantiate what was done was a criminal act vs usual dumb management decisions by Murfree. Someone needs to see a contract and tell us what was to be done. If stupidity can be prosecuted, we are going to need 50 more on the DA's staff! lol

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whattheheck 1 year, 2 months ago

If this company was overpaid by $250,000, how much was the amount that was not overpaid? This is a bunch of money. And if this overpayment was questioned by Dwyer at the time, whenever that was, why has it just now resurfaced and who raised the red flag?

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whattheheck 1 year, 2 months ago

Does anyone else think it is time for a grand jury investigation of what the DCSS has been doing? How many more spurious transactions will it take before a decision is made that Denmark is not the only place where things are rotten! I realize this is Albany, but It is reaching the point of disbelief!

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BettyBowTie 1 year, 2 months ago

Uh, where is the Facebook "Sign In"?

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BettyBowTie 1 year, 2 months ago

Thought that was to happen today?

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BettyBowTie 1 year, 2 months ago

Number 34, the king of the bow ties strikes again!

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iko 1 year, 2 months ago

Remember what I said, just a few posts up. Still looking for someone to take my bet.

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