SYLVESTER, GA (WALB) - WALB News 10 found that in state financial reporting, the Worth County Board of Education in 2017 reported paying thousands of dollars to more than a dozen students for working as substitute teachers.
The financial information is from OpenGeorgia.gov, under the salary list for the Worth County Board of Education.
WALB News 10 identified at least 13 students during the 2017 fiscal year who were paid a total of $8,139 for being substitute teachers.
Current School Superintendent Bill Settle was not at Worth County at the time but quickly started an investigation when WALB News 10 reached out to him.
"And I do take that seriously," said Settle. "I preach quite heavily here about being good stewards of our funds."
WALB News 10 identified the majority of the students were football players.
Settle said his check found they did work for the school system, but not as substitute teachers.
"These students were summer helpers. They worked in our maintenance department," explained Settle. "Lots of times here, historically here, when they moved into a new school or had any type of manual labor type needs in the summertime, they've tried to utilize the football program as the manpower."
Settle said a data coding error in their accounting listed the students as substitute teachers rather than maintenance helpers.
"I understand where it would be questioned if seen," said Settle. "But we'll get it fixed and move forward."
WALB News 10's Jim Wallace attempted to contact several of the students involved, but none returned his messages. However, several current and former Worth County coaches and employees confirmed that traditionally Worth County schools hire football players as maintenance helpers.