ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Dougherty County Commissioners took a closer look at how a high school civics program sponsored by the county is managed on Monday. The review came after an altercation between a high-ranking Dougherty County employee and a county commissioner involved with the program.
Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas said, "We have a program that deals with kids. How we administer that is important."
The program is the county-funded Georgia Civic Awareness Program. Assistant Dougherty County Administrator Michael McCoy filed a formal county complaint and a police report after he said he was "in fear for his safety" during a GCAPS school trip in April during an altercation with County Commissioner John Hayes. McCoy says Hayes used profanity and physical and job threats.
All other members of the county commissioner expressed concern about what happened. Commissioner Anthony Jones said, "GCAPS didn't originate here in Dougherty County. GCAPS originated through the ACCG, and that is the Association of County Commissioners. So, evidently, this thing is bigger than us sitting around a table. This is about the kids."
All commissioners, including Hayes who helped restart GCAPS in 2015, said they want to keep the focus on the students. "Don't penalize the children because you have concerns. Fix those concerns and move a very, very good program along," said Hayes.
All commissioners indicated they want the program to continue, citing its many benefits for high school students interested in government and leadership.
However, a letter read to the commission from School Superintendent Butch Mosley stated "I think it is wise for us to take an opportunity to re-examine the program to ensure that it is providing the most appropriate environment. My biggest concern with recent events is whether or not our students were exposed to any degree of unprofessionalism or inappropriate behavior."
Commissioner Ewell Lyle said, "I think if we develop our procedures to make sure those types of things don't happen in the future than we ought to continue the program."
The high school civics program is fully-funded by the county. It is not yet in the 2017 budget, but county commissioners were unanimous in their desire to keep the program going.