Dougherty County teacher waives arraignment, stays in classroom - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Dougherty County teacher waives arraignment, stays in classroom

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –Another Dougherty County teacher enters a not guilty plea on a theft charge. 

She's accused of shoplifting, but she will remain in the classroom until her trial.  Even the District Attorney doesn't think that's a good idea.

43 year old Felicia Ezeamii did not appear at her scheduled arraignment in State Court. Her attorney filed a waiver of the formal arraignment, so the court will now set her trial for sometime in February. Until then school officials say Ezeamii will continue to teach

43 year old Felicia Ezeamii was arrested June 6th and charged with shoplifting. Court papers say June 6th at Dillards' at the Mall she concealed a blouse, a shirt, and a skirt worth $215 in her purse, and tried to leave without paying. She is charged with misdemeanor theft by shoplifting. Today she waived her arraignment in state court.

District Attorney Greg Edwards said "that is effectively a plea of not guilty and the matter will be scheduled for trial. And at that time then we will present the case as it appears for determination by a judge or jury."

After her arrest, Dougherty County School Superintendent Dr. Joshua Murfree and the school board could have fired Ezeamii for violating the school contract's morality clause, but chose instead to suspend her five days without pay, and transfer her to the system's alternative school.

School System Spokesman R.D. Harter said "There is a high moral code for teachers."

But School officials chose to have Ezeamii teach the students who attend the alternative school, many of whom are there because of issues with the law, until her case is resolved.

Harter said "It's a terrible example for the student, so I feel like we have to proper procedure to read to these kinds of incidents as they occur. But at the same time we have to allow the law to work."

District Attorney Greg Edwards says there is nothing he can do about it.  Edwards said "I know it's not a good message, but the important message for everybody is that the law is the same for everybody, and that is everybody who is charged with a crime is innocent until shown otherwise."

Some members of the community question whether a teacher awaiting trial for stealing is the kind of role model they want teaching their children.

Some law enforcement officials tell me that the larger mall stores will not prosecute shoplifters unless they have excellent evidence. State court officials say the earliest Ezeamii trial could be scheduled is February. Then if she is found guilty, it will be up to the superintendent if she remains on the job.

Ezeamii has worked in the Dougherty County School System for 14 years.

She was transferred from the Albany Early College program to the alternative school after serving her suspension.

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