School board members revisit policies - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

School board members revisit policies

School board member Lane Price School board member Lane Price
DOUGHERTY CO., GA (WALB) -

Dougherty County school board members approve a new policy for volunteers.  It stems from an incident last year where a volunteer had a criminal record and was arrested on child molestation charges.

Dougherty County school board members are stepping up security clearance for volunteers.

They approved a revised policy which would divide volunteers into three levels, in hopes of better protecting students.

"Level three would be a volunteer who would have free access to kids and we would require a full background check on those people with fingerprints, and all kinds of criminal records as well as checking the registry," said Tommy Coleman, the DCSS attorney.

Updating this policy stems from an incident last year.

"We had a volunteer that came to school, kind of ingratiated himself and by doing that kind of avoided the necessary background checks where we would have seen that he had a criminal record," explained Coleman.

Grady O'Neal, was serving as a volunteer at South Georgia Regional Achievement Center, had a criminal record and then was arrested on child molestation charges.  The principal of the center, John Davis was suspended for 12 days without pay.

"They want to put that in place to make sure that the public and our school principals and officials know exactly what the expectation of the board is," said Coleman.

And the board is hoping this new policy will prevent any problems and help keep students safe.

Board members are also reviewing a policy to attract substitute teachers with more education.

Some board members are concerned too many substitutes don't have college degrees. The current policy gives priority to those with a teaching certificate or bachelor's degree, but anyone with a GED can also work as a substitute teacher.

"My reason for honing in on this policy is that I truly believe that we must provide teaching, not just babysitting when a child comes to school," said Dr. Lane Price, a school board member.

Administrators say one problem is that they don't have enough college grads and certified teachers who are willing to be substitutes.

Board members asked for more data on how many current substitute teachers do not have college degrees.

"It's a dilemma. I think the board is working towards a solution of that and they wanted more information about how many of our substitute teachers do not have college degrees," said Tommy Coleman, the DCSS attorney.

 

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