U.S. DOE will look at Dougherty Schools - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

U.S. DOE will look at Dougherty Schools

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ATLANTA, GA (WALB) -

Dougherty County school board members met with state officials who reprimanded board members Monday, and informed them of the latest move-- referring the school system to the Inspector General of the United States Department of Education. 

For two and a half hours Dougherty County school board members met with the Audit Committee of the State Board of Education.  They listened as state officials addressed the severity of their problems.

"We as members of the financial budget committee of the State Board view of the situation in Dougherty County to be extremely serious," said the chairman of the budget and audit committee, Larry Winter.

Dougherty County school board members sat quietly as committee members addressed numerous problems with the Title I and Race to the Top funds and recently putting the school system on high risk status.

"As a result of that, the various programs, we had to put them on high risk status and we as a state had to put them on high risk status. Which means we had to freeze $20 million worth of funds that are really intended to benefit the children of Dougherty County schools," said Winter.

State officials say they wanted to communicate where the school board stands in completing a corrective action plan and what they need to do to move forward.

Committee members say they're concerned about the lack of internal control. And just recently they announced that the school system has been referred to the inspector general of the United States Department of Education, something they've never had to do.

"We referred it to the inspector general and it's up to them to decide what they choose to do," said Winter.

School board member David Maschke fired back at the committee saying these problems were not created overnight and they can't be fixed overnight.

"I didn't want the Georgia Department of Education thinking that the board and the Dougherty County school administration is just sitting on its hands. Because we're not," said Maschke.

School board chairman James Bush thinks the meeting was a positive step in the right direction. And the first thing on his agenda is finding an interim superintendent to replace Joshua Murfree.

"We have a lot of vacancies, we got to have an interim, a curriculum director. We just need to move forward to show these people that we mean business," said Bush.

State officials say they hope the meeting empowered school board members to take charge and begin making changes.

Chairman James Bush, David Maschke, Darrel Ealum, Velvet Riggins, Carol Tharin and newly elected Lane Price and Robert Youngblood attended the meeting. 

School board attorney Tommy Coleman and CFO Ken Dyer were also there, as was Superintendent Dr. Joshua Murfree.

        Click HERE to read the letter from the Inspector General

 

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