Roberson's return date still unknown

Superintendent Frank Roberson underwent surgery to relieve brain swelling and pressure in February.

More than three months after Richmond County school Superintendent Frank Roberson underwent brain surgery, it is still unclear when he will be able to return to work.


The family has not released an update since April 20, when in a written statement Roberson said he was at Walton Rehabilitation Center "experiencing a speedy recovery."

On Monday, Acting Superintendent James Whitson said the school system has not been given an official update on Roberson's condition.

Roberson has had no involvement in any school system business, including the current budget planning for the 2011-12 school year, as he remains on disability leave, Whitson said. Students will return to start the new school year Aug. 8.

"It's my impression (Roberson) plans to return, it's just a matter of when his doctor says he can return," Whitson said. "I have not personally talked to Dr. Roberson about his health and when he plans to return."

Whitson said he did, however, receive a brief personal phone call from Roberson about a month ago.

During their conversation, Roberson praised the work the school system staff has done in his absence.

"He just wanted me to hear how positively he felt about everybody and how appreciative he was of everyone who has really tried to close the void of his not being there, and there is a void when he's not there," Whitson said.

Roberson, 55, has been under medical care since Feb. 22, when he first started experiencing complications from an arteriovenous malformation, which is an abnormal clustering of blood vessels in the brain.

He had surgery to relieve brain swelling and pressure Feb. 24 and was transferred to Walton Rehab for treatment April 13.

The Aiken County native was hired in August to be Richmond County's superintendent, succeeding Dana Bedden, who had taken a job leading the school district in Irving, Texas.

Since Roberson's illness, Whitson has taken over as acting superintendent. Whitson is now leading the school system's budgeting, which must be completed by June 30.

School board President Alex Howard said that although board members are eager for Roberson's return, they, too, have received no recent updates.

"We're going to welcome him back, but I haven't heard anything of when that will be," Howard said.

In the meantime, Whitson and the board have had to deal with state funding cuts to the Georgia pre-kindergarten program, which has led the district to close nine pre-K locations next school year and prompted 41 of the system's 47 pre-K teachers to request transfers out of the program.. The district also has to make cuts to balance an upcoming budget that faces a $17 million revenue shortfall.

They are doing it all with Roberson in mind, Whitson said.

"I think everyone in our office has tried to do the best they can, and people have really been working hard," Whitson said. "Some of that, I feel, is that no one wants to be the one to let the big man down."



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