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Digging Deeper: reporting school complaints

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Anonymous complaints of wrong doing do not appear to be welcome in the Dougherty County School System.

School staff tell us they fear retribution for attaching their name to negative complaints.  Both teachers and school board members tell us negative or complaints of inappropriate behavior are met with hostility and threats.

It's made teachers and some administrators fearful of coming forward with any information at all.

School Board members say it's something the school system must fix if they want to move forward and succeed.

School Board member Carol Tharin's only been on the board for six months, but she's heard plenty from school employees who've called her with complaints, but are afraid to leave their names.

"They fear reprisal, they fear being chastised by and shunned by fellow employees, and a lot of them feel like they'll be fired if they say anything," said Carol Tharin, Dougherty County School System Board Member.

Board member David Maschke has received similar complaints and understands where claims of retribution and the fearful atmosphere come from.

"Some school leaders they are very defensive and not open to information and sometimes the information that comes forward doesn't cast them in a good light," said Dougherty County School System Board Member David Maschke.

When we questioned what could be done about the situation, we were told board members have also struggled to have complaints investigated.

"I have reported numerous things and I haven't seen any action," said Tharin.

"My opinion is if you're not willing to address the reality and the facts of what's going on, then you can't fix it," said Maschke.

Board member Carol Tharin believes it's an issue the Superintendent's office should deal with.

"It should stop with the superintendent, he should investigate every complaint and determine whether or not its valid," said Tharin.

When we attempted to question Dr. Murfree Wednesday, he again wouldn't take our questions. We're told by board member's they feel like there's not serious enough or aggressive enough attention given to questions raised.

"Any kind of threats are inappropriate, that's not good leadership, that's not good management, it creates a hostile work force," said Tharin.

An environment they say that's not good for students or staff.

Tuesday Dr. Murfree said he didn't want CRCT investigators to accept anonymous tips in their investigation. We're told by teachers that any complaint made to the school system has to be done in writing and include their name.

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