Turner Elementary teacher under investigation for tax fraud - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Turner Elementary teacher under investigation for tax fraud

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April 10, 2007

Albany --  The school system is investigating whether he paid families for their children's Social Security numbers so he could claim them as dependants on his taxes, but he got caught.

He's been disciplined by the superintendent, though we don't know how, and he's been turned over to the Professional Standards Commission and the IRS.

"Are you coach Stamper? I need to ask you some questions. I'm Karen with Channel 10."

It's fair to say we caught Charles Stamper off guard, but it was only appropriate that the man believed to have illegally claimed students on his tax return have his say.

"I wanted to give you an opportunity," we said.

"To what?" Stamper replied.

"Did you buy Social Security numbers of students?"

 "No comment."

WALB News 10 has learned that Charles Stamper, a coach and teacher with the Dougherty County School system for about 20 years, may have bought or arranged to buy the Social Security numbers, birth dates and names of at least two students from their guardians. He was to pay a few hundred bucks to the parent or legal guardian for that information. In return, he'd get a couple of grand in a tax refund.

But Coach Stamper didn't want to talk with us about it. "No comment," he said.

Dougherty County Superintendent Dr. Sally Whatley confirmed there was an investigation. "There has been a personnel issue that we're dealing with. I feel like it's been dealt with appropriately as superintendent of the Dougherty County School system."

Whatley would not tell us exactly how she disciplined Stamper and says he's still in the same position, but she says the punishment fits the crime. "Without a shadow of a doubt I feel like it was an appropriate action taken and it would have been irresponsible for me not to have taken an appropriate action. It would also have been inappropriate for me not to have notified the authorities."

Whatley says Coach Stamper has a good record with the school system and as far as she knows, has never been disciplined. That's the reason he still has his job. "I'm confident that it won't happen again."

And if it does? "I would recommend termination immediately."

As for coach Stamper, he's not talking.

"Do you know it's illegal to do that?"

"No comment."

As for the law, it's loud and clear. You can only claim a dependent if the person meets the criteria as a qualifying child or relative-- not a student. We contacted several school board members who all referred the situation to Dr. Whatley who is responsible for personnel matters.

The professional standards commission could revoke or suspend Stamper's teaching certification, but they don't have to.

The case has been turned over to the IRS.

Feedback: news@walb.com?subject=TeacherTaxFraud/KC