No decision on superintendent; board to meet with state - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

No decision on superintendent; board to meet with state

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ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

The Dougherty County school board met behind closed doors to discuss personnel matters Monday morning.  But nothing was discussed or decided when they came out of executive session.

Nearly two weeks after a mutual agreement to release Superintendent Joshua Murfree from his position on December 18th, no interim has been named.

"It is important for the board to move as expeditiously as possible to find an interim person until we can spend the time necessary to find that permanent superintendent to lead the system," said school board attorney, Tommy Coleman.

The board will make the final decision on an interim superintendent, but the state is expressing interest in who will be picked.

Board members recently received a letter, requesting they attend a meeting on Monday with the Audit Committee of the State Board of Education to discuss the implementation of federal programs and the respective roles of the school system.

"I have an inkling as to what they're going to tell us, but I don't know exactly what they are going to say.  But I do know they are going to talk about the fact that we have just not been informed, the board. We learn from the media about what is going on, especially in the Title I office. That's going to be probably, the crunch of that discussion. The finances in that office," said school board chairman, James Bush.

Over the past several months, board members have received numerous letters about questionable Title I expenditures, and the system has to pay back thousands of dollars.

"They have found these irregularities to be of such a significant amount that they have questioned the management of the system, and of particularly that program.  And they want to talk to the board about it to see what the remedy is and see what the boards plans are, or what they intend to do to remedy this situation," said Coleman.

Earlier this month the state put the Dougherty County School System on high risk status.

"The fact that we were placed on a high risk status, I think they may feel that we don't understand the egregious nature of that type of a classification. I think it's going to be good for all of us to go up and find out just how serious this is," said school board member, Darrel Ealum.

But the system's financial problems won't be the only thing discussed.  Coleman believes the state is extremely interested in who will take over as interim superintendent.

"I think maybe the most important thing that they'll discuss is what are your plans about filling this position? And when do you expect it to be filled? I think that all things kind of flow from that," said Coleman. 

And who will fill the interim position is anyone's guess.

Bush says the board wants someone from outside this region.  "We think that it would be good to have that in view of all of the situations that we've encountered and we've had. We kind of wanted to go to Atlanta with a plan in place, but that won't happen," said Bush.

Monday's meeting in Atlanta is for current and newly elected school board members, the school system attorney, and the CFO.

The Georgia School Board Association will give the school board recommendations for both the interim and permanent superintendent.

Bush says they plan to have an interim in place by the time Murfree leaves.

Superintendent Dr. Joshua Murfree was released from his contract on November 14th.  Board members voted four to three to approve an agreement suggested by Murfree.  He'll be paid for the rest of his contract which adds up to more than $73,000.

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