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Press attorney questions school board vote

COVINGTON — The Newton County Board of Education has approved a settlement that allows a deputy superintendent and a principal to be released from their contracts early. However, the legality of the vote has been called into question.

Sherri Davis-Viniard, director of Public Relations at NCSS, said Thursday that the board members earlier this month approved the release of Dennis Carpenter, deputy superintendent for Operations, and LaQuanda Carpenter, principal of Alcovy High School, from their contracts in a settlement between them and the Newton County Board of Education, effective this week. The school system announced the settlement Wednesday afternoon.

“The board did vote on the settlement per accepting the superintendent’s recommendation in the executive session of Jan. 15, 2013. The vote during the regular meeting of the BOE was unanimous,” Viniard said.

Neither the settlement nor the employment changes were mentioned on the personnel sheet with other system employee changes provided after the meeting, nor were they explicitly mentioned during the meeting.

“My view is that the way the Board of Education voted on the settlement did not comply with the law,” David Hudson, attorney for the Georgia Press Association, said Thursday. “Under O.C.G.A. § 50-14-1(b) and § 50-14-2(e)(2)(B), the minutes must reflect the nature of what is voted on and who voted for and against each motion. Simply voting on a generic ‘recommendation of the superintendent’ is not sufficient disclosure.”

NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews said Thursday that he advised BOE Attorney Kent Campbell of the matter.

“Naturally, we will follow his legal advice,” Mathews added.

The Citizen is awaiting a response to an open records request from NCSS regarding documents related to the settlement. On Wednesday, NCSS would not respond to a question of whether the settlement cost the system anything, saying it was a personnel matter and no additional information would be released.

Hudson said the settlement documents are open records.

“There have been two cases previously, one in federal and one in Superior Court, and in both instances it was held that such settlement documents must be made public,” he said.

By law, NCSS has three days from Wednesday afternoon to respond to the request.

The school board won’t decide until later this month how to fill a void for a deputy superintendent position and a high school principal position.

School board Chair Abigail Coggin said Mathews must present personnel recommendations to the board for approval.

Mathews said Thursday that he has indicated to the board that the new superintendent should make the recommendation to fill Dennis Carpenter’s position or to reorganize departments. Mathews is scheduled to retire July 1.

Meanwhile, Mathews said, Jan Loomans, director of Operational Services over maintenance and school nutrition, and Mike Barr, director of Support Services over transportation, procurement and construction, will now meet with the system’s Executive Leadership Team on a regular basis beginning Feb. 4 during the interim period between now and the selection of a new superintendent.

“Oversight of the functions in operations can be shared with me during the next few months,” Mathews said.

Also, Mathews plans to recommend to the school board that acting Alcovy Principal Vic Lee, who has been working at the school since November while LaQuanda Carpenter was on maternity leave, remain at the school for the rest of the school year.

“Because of his current retirement status and Georgia (Teacher Retirement System) rules, he can only continue at AHS as a part-time employee,” Mathews said.

Lee retired as principal of Liberty Middle School in June.

“I do plan to recommend his part-time status for the remainder of this school year, while adding a part-time acting assistant principal,” Mathews said. “This way, we continue with a successful and experienced head of the school while not sacrificing full-time attention to the school.”

Lee retired from NCSS after 37 years in education. He has 18 years of teaching experience and 19 years of administrative experience.

He began working in NCSS in July 2002 as an assistant principal at Newton High School, where he worked until 2008. He then worked as assistant principal at Sharp Learning Center in 2008 and as acting principal at Sharp until 2009, when he moved to Liberty.

The school board next meets at 7 p.m. Feb. 12 in the Newton County BOE building, which is located at 2109 Newton Drive N.E. in Covington, for a work session.

Comments

dennistay53 1 year, 7 months ago

Why does this school system keep trying to keep stuff from the public. Thank you Newton Citizen and Mr Hudson for staying with this. If laws have been broke here it is time to go for ethic charges against this school board. Enough of this sneaking secretive stuff by this school board. And they wonder why they are talked about in this community?

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OnToday 1 year, 7 months ago

I angrily contacted the BOE member from my district . Was told there was NOT a vote on this. Just a proposal. Laws are being broken and taxpayer money wasted and we demand answers. No more corruption in NCSS! A coupke of peopke are manipulating things behind closed doors. No more!!!!

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dennistay53 1 year, 7 months ago

NOWAY can we pass a ESPLOST for a board behaving this way. If they aren't going to be forth coming with information as important as this, where our tax dollars are being spent- Then how are we going to be assured that the ESPLOST money will be spent properly. There should be an independent audit and investigation of this entire school system so that the citizens and taxpayers can once again put their full support behind these children, teachers, and system. The only way this can happen is through an independent audit or investigation to clear the air.

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ThePublicGood 1 year, 7 months ago

Even Danny Stone won't convince me to support Splost. Animals all of them.

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NoSPLOST 1 year, 7 months ago

obviously I agree not a penny to these creeps

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OnToday 1 year, 7 months ago

It's time to buyout and release Mathews. Should have voted out Turner and Johnson

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NoSPLOST 1 year, 7 months ago

Matthews is largely to blame. A super with kahunas would have stood up to these people. Now he is putting off every decision until the new supt comes on board - people get fat and sassy and too comfy on big salaries . You don't see any teachers putting lesson plans off until July 1 do you?

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ShannonBlack 1 year, 7 months ago

Because they don't want anyone to know anything. Mr Hudson and the Newton Citizen are great. I hope that everything gets better and after the Carpenters leave I think it will get better.

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NoSPLOST 1 year, 7 months ago

Ma'm you deserve a settlement for the treatment you got by NCSS employess Carpenter and Carpenter. I hope you are suing them and the board.

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Satan69 1 year, 7 months ago

Dennis was horrible at his job and it shows.

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MamaTurd 1 year, 7 months ago

They are good at sneaking stuff........

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tomgahunter 1 year, 7 months ago

They did the right thing firing the Carpenters. I don't see why they are trying to hide the facts.

Is the School Board getting good advice from Kent Campbell? Kent is getting long in the tooth, it may be time to bring in some new blood.

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RV30015 1 year, 7 months ago

So I want out of my contract too can I get a settlement?

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gsm7476 1 year, 7 months ago

Its time for the Newton grand Jury and the DA to look into open records and meetings and are they using GA TRS retired employees more than 49% of the time.

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gsm7476 1 year, 7 months ago

Keep digging into this Newton Citizen have been a great job of holding BOE feet to the fire.

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OnToday 1 year, 7 months ago

NCSS could Lise accreditation over stuff like this. SACS has nailed other counties for sketchy personnel incidents

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dennistay53 1 year, 7 months ago

It's time for some on the board to step down and give this school system a start over. The children and teachers deserve better.

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tomgahunter 1 year, 7 months ago

I agree Eddie Johnson needs to go right NOW. Almond Turner is a good & honest man but has simply been on the school board too long. With the Carpenters & Mathews gone we will have restart in the administration, time for change on the board.

I actually think Mr Mathews was the man to turn around NCSS but he was overwelmed by the Carpenters & Johnson. If it cost us $100,000 to get rid of the Carpenters it was money well spent, they would have done more damage to the system than the cost of their sverence.

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dennistay53 1 year, 7 months ago

I agree if you HAVE to pay them but why would you pay them for quiting? The very MOST they should be paid is until the June date they were leaving anyway. The BIG problem here is they choose to be secret with it and break Ga law in the way they went about it. I believe Mr Hudson and the Newton Citizen know what they are doing and will get to the bottom of this. If they are getting paid PAST the June date he was leaving then we have a SERIOUS problem here.

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Lucy30016 1 year, 7 months ago

David Hudson is BRILLIANT. More brains than the school board and their Ph.D. runaway super all together. He quashed Lindsey and LaQuanda like batting a little fly. If Hudson says they are in the wrong they are. This board is arrogant and does not want to answer to the taxpayers who put them in office. I agree get the State Ethics Commission on them all.

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tomgahunter 1 year, 7 months ago

Mr carpenter makes about $125,000 per year & his wife makes about $115,000 per year. So 5 months of severance would be about $100,000. I am not happy to "waste" this amount but I can't believe Eddie Johnson went along with firing the Carpenters. This mess has cost NCSS a years progress & a Superintendent that was on track to improve our school system.

My thoughts are that the school system needs to come clean on the settlement, hire a new Lawyer and hire the best supertendent we can find. Our system has a lot going for it but needs great leadership to accomplish our potential.

My Clamp & I were personal friends but we sent our Daughter to George Walton. It was the best investment we ever made.

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tomgahunter 1 year, 7 months ago

should be severence not sverence

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mrsfingerprints 1 year, 7 months ago

@tom - i respect what you say here but i have been VERY suprised at what i have learned lately about turner

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HonestAbe 1 year, 7 months ago

Please don't blame this mess on George Bush

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eyewitness 1 year, 7 months ago

What amount were they paid? Were benefits paid? How many and how long? If they get paid I expect the board member I elected to have attorney fees at least paid. I am calling state ethics.

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HonestAbe 1 year, 7 months ago

It ain't getting no better with the school system.

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TheUpside 1 year, 7 months ago

ok now if dennis carpenter starts in hickman mills on July 1 are we paying any benefits to tie them over to july 1? citizen paper please let us know if so we need to get the governor to recall this entire school board you do not do that for people who brought havoc and failure to us then pay them and support them i am glad they are gone but what does every part of this buyout look like - we pay for it so why cann't we know as taxpayers?

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Frustrated 1 year, 7 months ago

If you break a lease or contract you end up paying the lease or contract holder. The Carpenters should have paid NCSS to break the contract not the other way around. They are the ones that wanted out of their contracts so let them pay back NCSS.

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Billy 1 year, 7 months ago

Glad they're gone. The settlement with them should be made public. When we find out, then we can sue the Carpenters...

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