State to place DCSS in 'High Risk' status - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

State to place DCSS in 'High Risk' status

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Just when school board members thought it couldn't get any worse the Georgia Department of Education has delivered more unsettling news. The Dougherty County school system has been put on High Risk Status.

"I think it's sad. But I'm not totally surprised. It's going to make operating the system very difficult," said Carol Tharin, School Board Member.

"I'm very disappointed, but I'm not surprised. Because our problems have been almost insurmountable," said Darrel Ealum, School Board Member. 

In a letter to Superintendent Joshua Murfree, state officials gave their reasoning, saying the move was based on the district's unsatisfactory performance, management standards that don't meet requirements, slow response to the state's previous concerns and questionable spending of title one funds.

"We were just concerned of the overall management and implementation of the federal program and felt they needed to have some additional assistance and technical assistance and be required to do some additional restrictions as far as how they implement their programs," said Margo  DeLaune, Title Programs Director for the Georgia Department of Education.

Now the school system has to hire someone, the state approves to come in and assist with implementing federal funds.

"There were so different federal programs were having so many different issues all surrounding fiscal requirements that it was a concern for us as a state," said DeLaune.

The state can keep them on high risk status until they see some improvement, up to five years if necessary.

"Every time we have to stop and deal with a problem like this, it takes time away from educating students and I think that's a very sad scenario," said Tharin.

The superintendent was given 20 days to respond to the letter and request reconsideration of the high risk status as well as provide explanations for the questionable conduct.

"The state has no longer given us any option. We've got to do something. We've got to act," said Tharin.

Some of the board members say now they have no choice and their backs are against the wall.

The superintendent also received a letter on Monday, in which the state is demanding more information about the use of Title I, Part A funds.  And that extra information has to be sent in by November 30th. 

 School board member Darrel Ealum says he plans to present some recommendations to address these issues at an upcoming board meeting.

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