ALBANY — The “misstatements” of the would-be director of an Albany school for young boys has led to what appears to be the end of negotiations between the Dougherty County School System and King Randall for the purchase of a piece of property owned by the school system.
While Dougherty Schools Superintendent Ken Dyer spoke at length about the situation that included Randall claiming on local and national television broadcasts that he had purchased school system property at 300 Cason Street (the former Isabella School) for his proposed X for Boys LLC project, Dyer said he preferred his on-the-record comments to come in the form of a statement he prepared and sent to media outlets including The Albany Herald.
“Mr. Randall made several misstatements to both local and national media programs, some of which include those to (local TV station) WALB regarding the timeline of renovating the building and the building being on the demolition list; those on Roland Martin Unfiltered (a nationally syndicated TV show) when he claimed to have already bought the school; as well as several other instances where he claimed to have purchased the building,” Dyer said in the lengthy statement. “Mr. Randall made those misrepresentations publicly and frequently.
“Additionally, Mr. Randall violated the negotiation protocol that was established by misrepresenting the contract terms to the media rather than offering his proposed changes to the draft purchase agreement in a redline format as discussed. These protocols are necessary when working with an elected board that has a fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers when dealing with public land and public assets. When these misstatements were made, members of the DCBOE became concerned that Mr. Randall may be raising funds based in part on these misstatements and expressed their desire to issue a public statement correcting the record, so as to avoid any complicity with Mr. Randall’s false statements. Despite these calls to make a public statement to refute his misstatements, we decided not to do so at that time because we didn’t want to tarnish his reputation or hurt his stated mission of assisting troubled youth in our community. We did, however, express those concerns to him privately.”
Although Dyer had addressed the misstatements privately with Randall, continued inquiries from the media and other interested parties led to the issuance of a statement from the school system on Thursday.
In a cover letter sent with Dyer’s statement, School System Attorney Tommy Coleman said, “Public bodies such as the Dougherty County School System are restrained in the manner they may dispense of property and conduct the business of the property. During the course of these discussions, there have been significant misrepresentations of the position of the School System as well as the action taken by the system in consideration of this issue.
“The confusion created has led to a misunderstanding by members of the press and the public with regard to this matter.”
Dyer’s response follows:
In response to several media inquiries regarding the status of its negotiations with Mr. King Randall of the X for Boys LLC, the Dougherty County School System has prepared this factual account of the significant events that occurred within the last several weeks. Although it was our intent to address this matter privately, the multiple inquiries and our commitment to transparency make it necessary to issue this release in response.
As I stated to Mr. Randall early on, the process of a school system selling property is not a quick one, but I reassured him that we were committed to helping him make his dream of having a permanent home for X for Boys a reality. To that end, during our March 29 meeting, I suggested that we establish regularly-scheduled biweekly meetings to help us stay on track.
Specifically, we talked about how busy our schedules are, and I mentioned that my year had been busier than usual and would get even busier as we approached the end of the school year with activities/obligations outside of this initiative; so, establishing a regular meeting would be helpful. We agreed and established biweekly meetings for Thursdays at 3 p.m. Also, Mr. Randall’s team was to develop a draft project timeline for me to review. We felt by establishing a timeline, we could more effectively monitor our progress toward closing, as well as provide relevant updates to other interested parties as needed. A draft timeline was never presented.
Each of the special stipulations contained in the draft agreement was discussed during and/or before my meeting on March 29 with Mr. Randall and his business advisor. During that meeting, we discussed the rationale for each stipulation, and Mr. Randall appeared to have a good understanding of each. We left that meeting with the understanding that he would review the draft agreement and provide a counter proposal within a week for any provision(s) of the agreement he felt needed changing.
Later, he asked for an electronic copy of the agreement to provide me with a redline copy, indicating his suggested edits. I emailed it to his business advisor, as requested. I never received a redline copy. I did receive an email with two questions, and I responded to those. I knew of no concerns he had with the special stipulations until the unexpected, large group meeting on Thursday, May 20.
Following is each special stipulation and a summary of our discussion pertaining to each: (a) Purchaser shall, at its sole cost and expense and prior to closing, cause the property to be properly zoned for Purchaser’s intended use as a boarding school for Purchaser’s The X for Boys program.
As discussed during our meeting on March 29, this is in place to protect Mr. Randall and The X for Boys LLC. Neither Mr. Randall nor the DCBOE would want him to complete the purchase of the property, only to realize that he can’t obtain the zoning required to carry out the intended purpose of the building as a boarding school.
(b) Purchaser shall cause the former school building situated on the property to comply with all federal, state and local building codes, rules, regulations, laws and ordinances applicable to the building and its intended use as aforesaid.
(c) The deed of conveyance from Seller to Purchaser shall contain a use restriction that the Property cannot be used for the operation of a private school or a charter school unless the core educational services are provided by the Dougherty County School System.
As discussed during our meeting on March 29 and in previous meetings, Mr. Randall stated that his interest was to provide “life skills classes.” At that time, he had no model in mind as to how the school would deliver the core classes (English, Math, Science and Social Studies). Additionally, when I asked how the school would be structured, he stated that it would be a private school that would not charge tuition but would operate on donations.
We discussed the cost to operate a school, particularly a boarding school. When I suggested that the school could contract with the DCSS to offer the core courses, he seemed thrilled. We even discussed how this partnership could serve as a model and dispel the myth that public school systems and private schools can’t work together.
Specifically, during our March 29 meeting, I explained that technically the students would be considered part-time students in both the DCSS and Mr. Randall’s private school, that way the DCSS would receive QBE funding from the state for providing the core courses. We also discussed how that would benefit Mr. Randall by reducing his fundraising needs. In response to the dual enrollment model, Mr. Randall asked whether the high school diploma would be from his school or the school system, and I advised him that it would be from his school. The DCSS would deliver instruction on behalf of his school via a contract for services.
(d) Purchaser shall obtain all permits and licenses required for Purchaser’s occupation and intended use of the Property. As discussed during our meeting on March 29, this is in reference to getting accreditation for the private school. We discussed the options available and felt that seeking accreditation through the Georgia Accrediting Commission Inc. would be the best route. We even talked about the probability that the accreditation process wouldn’t be finished before the school opens, but it should be prior to graduating the first students. We also speculated that the partnership with the DCSS providing the core courses could be of benefit to Mr. Randall’s school during the accreditation process.
Because we felt the accreditation process would not be complete by the time Mr. Randall wanted to open his school, I was anticipating a change to this clause to state that he “shall have started the process to obtain …” instead of “shall obtain.”
(e) Prior to Closing, Purchaser shall have submitted to the city of Albany all of the plans and specifications for the rehabilitation and renovations to the building and have received approval from the city for such plans and specifications.
As discussed during our meeting on March 29, this is in place to protect Mr. Randall and The X for Boys LLC. Oftentimes, after plans have been developed by architects and/or engineers, and submitted to the local planning department, changes are required. Depending on the required changes, the associated cost could be expensive. Submitting plans and getting feedback from the local Planning Department would limit cost surprises after the closing.
(f) Purchaser shall, prior to Closing, provide Seller with evidence satisfactory to Seller that Purchaser has adequate funding and financial support for Purchaser’s purchase and rehabilitation of the Property as well as Purchaser’s intended operation and use of the Property as set forth above. Seller shall have sole discretion in its determination of whether the evidence presented by Purchaser is satisfactory to Seller and Seller may deem evidence presented by Purchaser as unsatisfactory for any reason in Seller’s sole opinion.
As discussed during our meeting on March 29 and in previous meetings, requiring the submission of financial information showing a purchaser has adequate financing to purchase, renovate and operate the property for its intended use is a standard requirement for the DCBOE. During the conversation, we discussed the former “Special Services” building on the corner of W. Broad Avenue and S. Madison Street. Approximately 16 years ago, the DCBOE sold that property. The buyer did not have the financial resources to complete the plans he had for the building. After a foreclosure and several ownership changes, the building still has not been renovated/repurposed.
Because of that experience, the DCBOE includes this special stipulation in all Sale and Purchase Agreements in which the DCBOE is the seller. Sales Price Regarding the sales price contained in the draft Sale and Purchase Agreement, as discussed during our meeting on March 29 and in previous meetings, the initial price is based on the standard value calculation the DCSS uses for vacant buildings and is subject to negotiation. That standard calculation is the estimated building value, plus the land value, less estimated demolition costs (if applicable). For the 300 Cason Street property, the calculation is as follows:
$10,000 Per Acre (Tax Records)
$70,000 Land Value
36,120-Square-Foot Building SF
$20 Value Per Square Foot
$722,400 Building Value
($275,000) Estimated Demolition Cost
$447,400 Net Building Value
$517,400 Land & Building Value
As you can see by the calculation in the table above, the land value is based on $10,000 per acre (as determined by the Dougherty County Tax Department), and the building value is based only on $20 per square foot. Please note, that we reduced the gross calculated value by estimated demolition costs of $275,000, although the building was not scheduled for demolition. As I told Mr. Randall when he initially inquired about the building, we recently entertained a $500,000 offer on the building, and although the developer’s plan didn’t receive all necessary approvals to make his proposed project financially viable, he stated his intent to come back with another offer.
(Randall’s offer on the building was significantly lower than the projected costs.)
To reiterate, we discussed the calculated value being the initial asking price, with the understanding that Mr. Randall would submit a counter offer. We also discussed the inability of the DCBOE to donate the property to Mr. Randall or The X for Boys LLC due to the “Gratuities Clause” of the Georgia Constitution that prohibits governments (including public school systems) from giving something of value without sufficient consideration in return. We discussed that because Mr. Randall’s program would directly benefit the school system and the community, we could justify selling him the property at less than market value.
Finally, we discussed that there is no formula to calculate the value of a public benefit, but any “discount” had to be reasonable and justifiable because the “public benefit” exception to the “Gratuities Clause” is the most closely scrutinized. Whereas I appreciate the passion of Mr. Randall’s supporters and their desire for the DCBOE to donate the property, the sentiment of a select group of people does not supersede the Constitution of the State of Georgia.
We have never seen The X for Boys LLC as a competitor (as stated by Randall during one TV appearance). In fact, over the years we have assisted Mr. Randall’s program whenever he reached out to us. As stated earlier in this document, we had an understanding that the DCSS would provide the core education courses for the students of his school. That would have been a partnership, not a competition.
As discussed on multiple occasions, we both see the need to help our young men. The DCSS is as committed as ever to that cause, and we view anyone engaged in such an effort as an ally, not competition. Our track record speaks to that.
The Dougherty County School System has enjoyed a working relationship with the X for Boys LLC organization over the last couple of years and has been happy to work with Mr. Randall to facilitate various activities for the participants of his program. The DCSS operates under the philosophy that every healthy partnership is built on a foundation of trust. Unfortunately, this trust was breached when Mr. Randall made several misstatements to both local and national media programs. ... Additionally, Mr. Randall violated the negotiation protocol that was established by misrepresenting the contract terms to the media rather than offering his proposed changes to the draft purchase agreement in a redline format as discussed. These protocols are necessary when working with an elected board that has a fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers when dealing with public land and public assets.
When these misstatements were made, members of the DCBOE became concerned that Mr. Randall may be raising funds based in part on these misstatements and expressed their desire to issue a public statement correcting the record, so as to avoid any complicity with Mr. Randall’s false statements. Despite these calls to make a public statement to refute his misstatements, we decided not to do so at that time because we didn’t want to tarnish his reputation or hurt his stated mission of assisting troubled youth in our community. We did, however, express those concerns to him privately.
Notwithstanding what seems to be an unfortunate outcome to the negotiation for the property at 300 Cason St., we wish Mr. Randall well in his continued efforts to support young men in our community. We will also continue to do our part to positively impact the lives of those whose development we are entrusted with, and partner with those individuals and organizations who wish to partner in that work.
Subsequent to the initial events that caused such media interest, the superintendent and Mr. Randall engaged in discussions to try and find common ground, work to re-establish the foundation upon which all healthy partnerships are built, and truly work together to make a positive impact on the lives of the youth in our community.