Schools terminate employees for conduct
Staff members' behavior was 'detrimental' to school system

COVINGTON - The Newton County Board of Education approved the termination of three employees at its September work session.

The Newton County School System recommended the board accept the terminations of West Newton Elementary School paraprofessional Joan Adams and Alcovy High School custodian Nancy Strong, both effective Aug. 26, and bus driver Janet Burroughs, effective Sept. 8, all for conduct that was deemed "detrimental" to the school system.

Additionally, Burroughs was terminated due to alleged insubordination, failure to report to work, refusal to meet with a director as requested and for a previous suspension, according to a notice of separation form obtained through an open records request filed by the Citizen.

Superintendent Steven Whatley informed Burroughs in a letter dated Sept. 8 that the termination was a result of her not reporting to work the afternoon of Sept. 5 and not meeting with the assistant transportation director as requested in regards to an incident that happened Sept. 4.

"The incident on video showed that you got off the bus, left the bus running and had an elementary student sit in the driver's seat with other students on the bus," Whatley said in the letter. "The purpose of that meeting was to hear what you had to say about the incident."

In the letter, Whatley also reminded Burroughs that she had "just" returned to work on Sept. 2 after being previously suspended without pay for "another incident whereby your actions as a bus driver were inappropriate."

NCSS would not provide any documents or details regarding the suspension.

"The document you are referencing is a part of the evaluation process regarding this employee and is not an open record," said Dennis Carpenter, associate superintendent for Human Resources at NCSS, in an

e-mail to the Citizen.

Furthermore, the school system would not comment as to the details of the Sept. 4 incident and the previous incident.

"The Newton County School System cares about the quality and effectiveness of all personnel who are hired to work with the students in our county. As a district, we become very concerned when employees don't rise to the standards communicated to them at the time of hire," Carpenter wrote in an e-mail. "We are committed to employing outstanding individuals to work with our students. We are also committed to continuously monitoring the quality and effectiveness of the support staff and teachers chosen to work with our students through conferencing, observations and periodic evaluations of their performance."

Burroughs started work with the school system in August 2003.

Adams, a paraprofessional at West Newton Elementary since July 25, was terminated for having "conduct detrimental to company," according to her notice of separation. The school system would not comment further except to provide a letter from the school principal.

"In the best interest of West Newton Elementary, I recommend that Joan Adams be terminated from her position as paraprofessional at our school. Thank you for your consideration in this matter," wrote Principal Ericka Anderson in a letter to Carpenter.

Strong, a custodian at Alcovy since April, was terminated for the same reason, having conduct that was viewed as "detrimental" to the company, according to her notice of separation.

"Ms. Strong used obscene language toward several students. She also left her area of responsibility and was not completing her duties during that time," school Principal David Easterday wrote in a letter to Carpenter.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd