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Terrace Manor principal placed on leave after outburst

Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012 11:07 AM
Last updated Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012 1:25 AM
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Terrace Manor Elementary School Principal Hartley Gibbons was placed on paid administrative leave Wednesday after yelling at Richmond County Board of Education members during committee meetings Tuesday, alleging they were ignoring serious mold and mildew problems that were making his teachers and staffers ill.

Principal Hartley Gibbons was placed on leave for yelling at the school board about issues at Terrace Manor Elementary.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Principal Hartley Gibbons was placed on leave for yelling at the school board about issues at Terrace Manor Elementary.

Superintendent Frank Roberson said the leave will allow officials to investigate and decide the proper placement for Gibbons.

“It gives us an opportunity to really assess where we are with the situation and determine exactly where we need to move in terms of leadership at the school,” Roberson said.

Gibbons had to be escorted from the district office building Tuesday by two school safety officers as he continued to yell that the deteriorating condition of his school was being ignored. Two agencies that inspected the school in the past two months, along with certified inspectors from the school system, have said the building is safe and free of mold.

Despite the testing, some teachers and parents persist in their concerns and their support of Gibbons.

As the principal was packing items from his office Wednesday while school safety officers stood by, a woman called 911 for three teachers who said they were having trouble breathing.

“They’re passing out; they’re saying they can’t breathe; and their eyes are rolling in their head and stuff,” said the caller, according to the 911 recording obtained by The Augusta Chronicle.

When the ambulance service dispatcher asked the caller what happened at the school to have caused three teachers to fall ill at once, the caller responded “nothing but the mold and mildew.”

Gibbons said briefly Wednesday that teachers have been suffering from respiratory problems this year. He added that his attorney will be speaking for him from this point on.

No sign of mold

Benton Starks, the senior director of facilities services, said he is confident the school is not making teachers sick.

“We called in outside people to check behind us,” Starks said. “We hired a lab to check the lab, which is unusual, but we did it just so we can say we have turned over every rock. If somebody’s getting sick, we can’t show any correlation the building is doing anything.”

Alternative Construction and Environmental Solutions, an environmental consultation and construction management firm, tested for moisture intrusion, the condition of painted surfaces, asbestos-containing materials and mold, and conducted a limited indoor air-quality analysis Sept. 17 and 19.

The firm concluded that all asbestos-containing materials were in good condition and said it found “no visible evidence of mold growth,” although no destructive or invasive inspecting was performed, according to the report.

The East Central Health District also inspected the school Nov. 6 and found “no signs of any current mold issues within the school building,” according to a letter sent to Gibbons.

Starks said Axis Environmental Services also conducted air and surface testing Nov. 5 but he is still waiting for the results.

Some show symptoms

Gibbons’ outburst Tuesday came as board members discussed priority schools that will receive money for repairs and renovations using special purpose local option sales tax funds.

Terrace Manor is not scheduled to receive any of the tax money this year, and as Gibbons was being led out of the board of education building he yelled about his school’s position on the priority list.

In Phase I of the tax, Terrace Manor received $661,000, which paid for a new physical education building and a roof replacement in 2000. It received another $3.3 million in 2005 for a building renovation, site work and HVAC upgrade.

Although it did not receive money in Phase III or IV of the tax, the district has spent more than $100,000 in the past six months on repairs and lab tests at Terrace Manor.

Still, parents, including Lois Hogden, said children and staff are getting sick and they fear it is from exposure at the school.

Hogden, the Terrace Manor PTA president, said her grandson gets regular headaches and stomachaches after leaving school, which doctors are attributing to allergies.

She said she also suffers severe headaches after volunteering for the day at the school.

“I think it has to do with the building itself,” Hogden said. “As long as I’m not there, I don’t suffer from headaches. I’m in good health, and so is my child. It just changes when you’re there for a while.”

Gibbons’ past actions

Tuesday’s incident isn’t the first time Gibbons’ actions have gained attention.

In 2009, Gibbons and Rickey Lump­kin, now principal of Wilkinson Gardens Elementary School, sued the school district, alleging that officials demoted them from high school assistant principals to elementary principals because they were black and were passed over for more prestigious positions in favor of white women.

In 2011, a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a federal district court ruling dismissing the claim. The court ruled that the school district showed legitimate reasons to demote and deny promotions to the two men, who received the same job titles, work responsibilities and compensation as the female elementary school principals they were challenging.

On another occasion, also in 2009, he promised students he would spend one night on the roof of Terrace Manor for each grade level that met the proficient level on a math benchmark test.

He kept his promise when the fifth grade exceeded the requirements and spent one night, from 2:30 p.m. to 8:30 a.m., on the roof, passing time by completing staff appraisals and making calls to parents before sleeping on a blanket, pillow and poncho liner.

Hogden said Gibbons’ passion should not be mistaken for trouble-making at the school.

“His passion and love for the kids is there,” she said. “It’s not about me; it’s not about him; it’s about these children.”

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NamelessHuman
24
Points
NamelessHuman 11/14/12 - 11:32 am
5
1
Big Problems

Those of you who have no experience with the school or it's staff need to keep your "facts" to yourself. Those of us who have been in the school know they have an asbestos problem. They most certainly have mold/mildew problems and years of painting over the mold and water damage doesn't fix the problem. Only of late have they taken some steps to try to remedy the problems (roof repairs). Much of this due to the Principal's tireless efforts. If any engineering firm filed a report stating there was no asbestos or mold they either didn't do their job properly or filed a fraudulent report. Also, Robertson's comments need to be taken with a grain of salt. He has not been involved on a day to day basis in over a year and in his absence his subordinates did absolutely nothing to address the problems. Those are the facts.

resident
501
Points
resident 11/14/12 - 11:36 am
5
0
Nothing found????

I have a feeling the test locations such as painted surfaces..Come on people it is things like the AC that needs to be looked at. I would be the mold is growing in the ductwork. This is no uncommon in the south. It needs to be cleaned periodically. This is becasue the kids and staff are in and out during summer/spring and early school year months this can't be avoided, it is not like a house where the doors are closed most of the time schhol doors open frequently and moisture is let in every time. Asbestos is another nightmare by itself, this needs long ter measurements not just brief one or two day random checks. This stuff sits undisturbed it of course will not register ut now you have a school full of children,teachers, janitorial staff ..etc this will make it show up. Seems like their air quality study might be a bit skewed to me as an outsider that has seen how proper measurement is completed, but details were not published so it is speculation.

Just My Opinion
6260
Points
Just My Opinion 11/14/12 - 11:51 am
10
0
I knew it! The BOE doesn't

I knew it! The BOE doesn't like being shown up and it took the easy way out by removing what...or WHO...they feel is the REAL problem. If you parents and teachers want to keep your principal, you better organize and show the BOE you support the man. Otherwise he WILL be fired! It is obvious this man loves his school, his staff, and mostly HIS pupils!

HenryWalker3rd
2393
Points
HenryWalker3rd 11/14/12 - 11:53 am
8
0
RCBOE....are you really
Unpublished

RCBOE....are you really serious?!?!?

There needs to be more Principals like such.

Mr. Thackeray
957
Points
Mr. Thackeray 11/14/12 - 11:55 am
7
0
I have seen this

I have seen this before...sick building syndrome is REAL and teachers are subjected to it in older buildings. This reeks of the board trying to cover it up! Bring the EPA in to do the test the RIGHT way!

cj52111
36
Points
cj52111 11/14/12 - 12:28 pm
3
0
Mold "It's All Over the News"

Mold it's all over the news, it is mentioned in the bible. Has been around forever, well a long long time. Mold is in our homes. The air we breathe inside has been filtered (conditioned), and is typically cleaner than outdoor air. It is often individual's sensitivity to pollens and dust that are the issue. This is not to say that there aren't the occassional mold issues out there, we should however listen to the results of testing and field professionals before yelling foul (air).

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 11/14/12 - 12:35 pm
0
5
More people like him? No thank you.

Just take a peek at Mr. Gibbons' personnel file. This isn't the first run in he has had with the school board.

my.voice
5167
Points
my.voice 11/14/12 - 12:56 pm
6
0
Sounds like time for a SAVE

Sounds like time for a SAVE THE G campaign. This guy needs a medal, not paid leave.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 11/14/12 - 01:29 pm
4
1
Prime example of what is wrong with public education

Mr. Gibbons represents what is wrong with public education in this country...

In his career, he has been investigated multiple times, demoted, transferred, and passed around from position to position.

In education, there is a term for this.

HenryWalker3rd
2393
Points
HenryWalker3rd 11/14/12 - 03:36 pm
4
0
@I.I.
Unpublished

"Just take a peek at Mr. Gibbons' personnel file."...

Who would have access to his file?

avidreader
3558
Points
avidreader 11/14/12 - 04:23 pm
3
0
A Bold Man!

This guy's got big kahunas. I admire his spunk, but is he doing what is best for his faculty, students, and parents? However, I still wish him luck in his battle with the Board. The real truth will eventually surface. If "I I" is correct, there's a deeper issue than we commoners are aware of. And that's a big, big IF. Dr. Roberson is an extremely compassionate man, and if Mr. Gibbons ticked off the good Doctor, than there's got to be a legitimate reason other than an outburst at the BOE meeting.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 11/14/12 - 04:53 pm
4
0
@ HenryWalker3rd

Who would have access to his file?

Anyone.

It's a public record. The only stuff in his file that is not public would be evaluations, SSN and health records.

Everything else is fair game.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 11/14/12 - 07:45 pm
1
1
At this point I am of the unpopular mind set.

* We have a very dedicated principle who wants what is best for his school. But he has reached an emotional breaking point. He needs to be evaluated to see if he poses any issue being in direct contact of any children or staff.

* The RCBOE response is justified given his very public emotional outburst.

Why?
As citizens of Augusta-Richmond Co., we elect the RCBOE to oversee the school system.

It is not the duty of any Principle or school employee to take it upon themselves to publicly challenge the decisions or authority of any of our elected officials.

As Citizens we have that right,
But employed RCBOE staff cannot do this.

The #1 Team Rule:
Gripe sessions are done behind closed doors, not in public.
Once a team decision is made, either enforce it as part of the Team, work inside to change it, or move on to work to change it outside the system (Run for the RCBOE).

pearlthesquirrel
786
Points
pearlthesquirrel 11/14/12 - 08:07 pm
0
0
H.G. for President - 2016
Unpublished

I've never met or talked with Mr. Gibbons in my life - but from what I could see, I think he and I would get along extremely well (lol). This cat just showed RCBOE that he's got a serious set of cajones and well, enough is enough.
I think maybe Hartley Gibbons should run for President in 2016 - what do you think?
Maybe somebody (wink-wink) needs to call "somebody" and make a claim or file a report about this "little ol' asbestos thing."

HenryWalker3rd
2393
Points
HenryWalker3rd 11/14/12 - 08:10 pm
2
0
What's to loose?
Unpublished

Thanks I.I

...but you have to admire his courage...what will he gain out of this situation? Nothing. What will his staff and students gain, IF there is a ruling in their favor, EVERYTHING...

We need more like him in RC,...maybe things wouldn't be so jacked up.

All of this over mold???? Talk about courage

dahreese
4907
Points
dahreese 11/14/12 - 09:08 pm
1
0
"It is not the duty of any
Unpublished

@open curtain; "It is not the duty of any Principle or school employee to take it upon themselves to publicly challenge the decisions or authority of any of our elected officials."

It is when that authority isn't competent enough to do the job it was elected to do.

Problem with public education in Georgia is that the state (and in this case Richmond County Board of Education) is never trying to see how much it can do to better things, but how cheap it can get out.

It is bad school board situations like this that give ammunition to Gov. Deal to bypass already established methods to establish charter schools and do it "His way."

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 11/14/12 - 09:24 pm
2
0
Elections come up for the area

of discussion in 2 years correct?

As citizen you have the right to protest and petition for change of any RCBOE decision to address and correct them.

Using a poor example:
You hire a person to work for you caring for your children in your house.

He goes off the deep end, when he does not get what he wants, he starts yelling at you about how bad you are, and how you are doing things wrong as a parent and his employer.

So for safety, you call the law to remove him from the house.

Given this similar example what would you do?

Would trust him around your kids?

Given he emotionally exploded all over you in your face, would you want that person in your house?

Add to the example he does this in front guests in your house.

This how I based my remarks.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 11/14/12 - 09:53 pm
6
0
It never ceases to amaze

It never ceases to amaze me....

Suddenly...out of the blue...like a flash of genius, everyone hates the Richmond County BOE.

Yet...

Just last week, each and every incumbent on the Richmond County BOE was re-elected.

NamelessHuman
24
Points
NamelessHuman 11/14/12 - 11:10 pm
3
0
Last Resort

Principal Gibbons had no other choice than to do what he did. Those of us who know the facts of the situation know very well he tried for the better part of the last two years to get the RCBOE to address the concerns. Unfortunately the school is not one of their "important" schools and chose time and time again to silence him. Roberson and his deputy can continue to spin their story, but with Roberson not able to do his job for well over a year and his subordinates doing nothing during that time is finally catching up to them.

Ruckus
467
Points
Ruckus 11/15/12 - 12:51 am
2
0
Gibbons’ passion should not be mistaken for trouble-making

Gibbons’ passion should not be mistaken for trouble-making at the school. We need more like him because alot of educators are only in it for the money. Gibbon should be praised and not dragged through the mud for carring

Young Fred
20992
Points
Young Fred 11/15/12 - 02:04 am
1
0
What a fascinating story.

What a fascinating story. OpenCurtain made excellent points, as did posters claiming to be parents. I would tend to give the benefit of doubt to parents, if they've no ax to grind.

You've got a career educrat, versus a board and a whole clutch of bureaucrats.

“...although no destructive or invasive inspecting was performed, according to the report” That's a fairly major point I would think, what with all the complaints.

If it's finally determined that there are no problems, and considering Mr. Gibbon's past, he should be run out of the system and banned from the education profession. If however it is found that he is correct, he and the parents of all children involved should sue the Board into bankruptcy! We cannot allow our “agencies” to continue to mislead and get off scott free. Too much of that going on for too long.

Of course, that's if it's truly determined. Half arze testing, rubber stamped by the board won't cut it. It will take an invasive test from a qualified, disinterested, third party that meets standards acceptable to all parties. Too much at stake to accept anything less.

dizzy dictator
109
Points
dizzy dictator 11/15/12 - 02:28 am
0
0
One might even bet that not

One might even bet that not getting results to the issues prior to the outburst at the RCBOE meeting and being an educator and having a lawyer, probably already has the proof he needs. Why just come off like that knowing there will be consequences and possible job loss.

rebellious
21863
Points
rebellious 11/15/12 - 07:25 am
3
0
Conspiracy?

The article makes this statement -"Two agencies that inspected the school in the past two months, along with certified inspectors from the school system, have said the building is safe and free of mold."

It reminds me of the Hyde Park fiasco where people refuse to let facts get in the way of what they choose to believe. Now for Terrace Manor to be mold and asbestos contaminated means we have a conspiracy between 2 outside firms, who probably would also stand to gain from an abatement effort were mold and asbestos found, and the BOE's certified inspector. Not very likely, in my opinion.

Rather we should take the word of a principal because several people and kids have the sniffles during the months of October and November. Ummm, I would bet on the trained, sertified professionals over the Administrator of the school.

And be that as it may, there are proper channels for drawing attention to such problems, ranting and raving like a madman is not proper nor appropriate. But, look for more of this type of response from society in general as we move deeper into fundamental change of America. Where fairness and revenge are the mantra of the day. Don't get what you want. demand it and get in the face of your superiors.

Oh and just wait for it, because the race card hasn't been played yet, but it will be. Bet on it!

allaboutlife
55
Points
allaboutlife 11/15/12 - 07:35 am
0
0
I am sure he has legitimate

I am sure he has legitimate concerns, just as there were in the Law Enforcement Center, but no one wants to hear about that. Mold will kill you, but no government entity wants to admit to the possible liability. Look how long the county put off moving the folks out of the Law Enforcement Center, constantly saying that nothing was wrong. Well when the dust settles and the lawsuits are adjudicated, let's see who was telling the truth.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 11/15/12 - 07:54 am
2
0
??? sue the Board into bankruptcy ??? NO

Why mess up the educational hopes of every child in A-RC and make some buzzard circling lawyer rich, just prove a point?

Every time someone sues the county they are suing YOU the TAXPAYER. To be able to continue to operate the RCBOE would increase what? TAXES. Which who pays? That is right. YOU the TAXPAYER.

My Thoughts
Do I think one more test is going to be made - YES

Do I think the results of that test are going to assured by both sides -YES

Do I think a normally outstanding principle is out the door if the tests come back Negative - YES

Do I think there is a bats chance in hell that the RCBOE will allow anything other than Negative results at this point - MAYBE. It is government and if the RCBOE picks and pays the tester it will used to challenge the results right or wrong.

Should the Principle be held responsible for his emotional outburst even if the results are positive? - YES, but to a lesser degree than termination.

Given all the foundation laid do I expect to see him run for RCBOE office? - YES

Do I expect to see him win? There lays the rub. As a grandparent I want skilled, logical, emotionally controlled administrators at the helm. But I have not seen a lot of logic and common sense applied by voters lately, just emotion.

Little Lamb
49003
Points
Little Lamb 11/15/12 - 07:51 am
2
0
Hysteria

From the story:

As the principal was packing items from his office Wednesday while school safety officers stood by, a woman called 911 for three teachers who said they were having trouble breathing. “They’re passing out; they’re saying they can’t breathe; and their eyes are rolling in their head and stuff,” said the caller, according to the 911 recording obtained by The Augusta Chronicle.

When people become emotionally distraught over an unfortunate event involving a friend, they can become hysterical. The employees of this school need a calming influence in charge, not a man who whips the employees up into frenzies over unfounded allegations of sick building syndrome.

One of the posters above said, “Those of us who have been in the school know they have an asbestos problem.” How in the world would they know that? The environmental consulting firm did inspections and testing for asbestos and said the asbestos is being managed properly. It's time to let it rest.

Little Lamb
49003
Points
Little Lamb 11/15/12 - 07:55 am
2
0
You Can't Please Everybody

Young Fred posted:

It will take an invasive test from a qualified, disinterested, third party that meets standards acceptable to all parties.

As Rebellious posted up above, some people refuse to accept inspection results and laboratory results when those results are contrary to their preconceived notions.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 11/15/12 - 08:19 am
1
0
I am going to catch it for this comment

but the wife just said something, and I must say I see the parallel .

I would encourage everybody at the school NOT to drink any Kool Aide.

It is almost like there is a cult following, given the distraught staff wailing hysterically on his exit with supportive 911 panic calls.

soapy_725
44111
Points
soapy_725 11/15/12 - 08:08 am
1
0
The local health department and
Unpublished

certainly the local EMC could have "air quality samples taken and tested. This requires an instrument that draws in air at a level comparable to a person's respiration over eight hours. The sample filter is analyzed first for particulate weight (airborne material ). Then it is analyzed for the chemical components that are captured. Basic science. This is more scientific than looking into ducts and closets with a flashlight (this was probably the extent of the ARC inspection ).

So we are to conclude that if it doesn't make 100% of the population sneeze and wheeze, it is okay. How about the peanuts? How about the second hand smoke? Mindless sheeple. I don't have a problem, so therefore there is no problem.

We would doubt that the HVAC filters are change at all. Definitely on a regular schedule. That would be MAINTENANCE and ARC don't do maintenance. That budgeted money is for other things. You know "that thing"? What thing? You know, that thing.

soapy_725
44111
Points
soapy_725 11/15/12 - 08:10 am
2
0
The EPA, that government thing
Unpublished

ruled decades ago that asbestos was a hazard and required it be removed. Why is it still present in government buildings? You would think the government would clean its own house first, right? It is only taxpayers money. And the government loves to spend taxpayers money.

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