Sylvia McGee Rehired After Sanctions by State Board

9:44 AM, May 14, 2010   |    comments
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Video: Sanctions Against Patterson, McGee Approved

Video: State Panel Approves Sanctions Against Patterson, McGee

Video: Sylvia McGee Rehired After Sanctions By State Board

  • Sylvia McGee, acting Bibb County schools superintendent
  • Sharon Patterson, former Bibb County schools superintendent
    

Sylvia McGee will remain acting superintendent for Bibb County schools.

The Board of Education voted Thursday night to renew McGee's contract and that of assistant superintendent Mack Bullard.

This happened hours after Georgia's Professional Standards Commission approved sanctions against McGee and Bullard. Former Superintendent Sharon Patterson was also cited.

The state commission voted after reviewing complaints that Patterson, McGee and Bullard had failed to report allegations of misconduct by three principals.  

After meeting behind closed doors for three hours, school board members voted on contracts for all certificated employees.
 
Board member Lynn Farmer made a motion to separate McGee and Bullard's contracts from the rest of the pack, but only she and board president Gary Bechtel supported that motion.
 
Bechtel said the board was on a tight time frame to approve contracts, which must be sent to the state by May 15th.
 
He says he did not necessarily want to end McGee's contract, but wanted more time to talk about the issue.
 
"They would have been sent a letter saying they were non-renewed for the upcoming year, but that did not mean that we could not come back at a later day, possibly next week when the full board was all available, and have a further discussion and offer them a contract," Bechtel said.
 
Bechtel added, "there are ramifications to the P.S.C. decision, that we would have liked to have more time to discuss, I think she's done a very good job in the short time that she's been superintendent, and I'm pleased with the job she's done, but you have to consider all of this in totality."
 
Bechtel says some board members were concerned about the fact-finding of the P.S.C. investigation, and that McGee and Bullard could not present their side of the story.
 
McGee says she is happy to continue her work with the Bibb County school system.
 
She says, "there's a lot of work to be done in the district and we must continue to move forward, so it's really refreshing that we'll be able to continue the work and stay focused."

Bechtel says board member Albert Abrams abstained from the vote, because his wife, the district's human resources director, Myra Abrams, was also sanctioned by the P.S.C Thursday for 20 days.

Board member Susan Sipe was not at the meeting.

The Professional Standards Commission, meeting in Atlanta, voted in favor of lifting Sharon Patterson's education certificate for two years. It agreed that Sylvia McGee have her certificate lifted for one year. Bullard was recommended for a 90-day sanction.

Bechtel, the school board president, said he was surprised by the severity of the recommendations. 

"I have sat on the Commission before for three years," he said.  "So I have some historical context."

The attorney for McGee and Bullard, Jerry Lumley, said they will not accept the findings and will request an administrative appeal hearing as the law allows.

Lumley told 13WMAZ's Vanessa Ruffes that McGee and Bullard "strongly deny, emphatically deny, that they have committed any ethical violations."

He said "all the P.S.C. can do is make a finding of probable cause that there is a reason for sanctions."

Lumley says it could be as long as six months until the educators get their hearings. If the complaints are dismissed, he says they plan to seek compensation for their troubles.

"If matters are stated about them and matters are printed about them that are incorrect, then the law allows them to be compensated for their names tarnished," Lumley says.

The Professional Standards Commission's deputy executive director of education ethics, Gary Walker, said that after the school officials are notified of the findings by letter, they have 30 days to accept them or to appeal.

Walker said the sanctions, if they are made final, "mean you can't work in the profession for the duration of the sanction."

He said the sanctions would go on a national database where potential employers could see them.

Walker says more Bibb County educators have come under investigation as a result of the inquiry into the conduct of Patterson, McGee and Bullard.

In voting for the sanctions, the commission accepted the recommendations of its Ethics Review committee.

Under fire over the allegations, Patterson announced her retirement in February and received a $198,000 settlement for the remainder of her contract, which was to expire in June 2011. She has said previously she's done nothing wrong and handled the complaints against the principals fairly. She has said the allegations against the other officials are "meritless."

Patterson, McGee and Bullard were not at the Professional Standards Commission meeting.

Patterson's lawyer did not return our phone call seeking comment.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

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