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Work hours oversight won't be investigated, say school officials

Monday, March 11, 2013 8:35 PM
Last updated 11:39 PM
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Officials with the Richmond County School System said they are not opening an investigation to determine how seven retirees worked more hours than allowed by law over a four-year period, which resulted in the district’s having to pay a $241,000 fine last month to the Teacher Retirement System of Georgia.

Superintendent Frank Roberson said that his staff has written new procedures to ensure the mistake does not occur again but that he has not been instructed by the Board of Education to open an investigation.

It is still unclear, however, how the oversight occurred. Roberson, human resources officials, school board members and accounting staffers could not explain how the retirees worked more than allowed or who was responsible for monitoring their schedules.

“I would be speculating if I were to say it,” Roberson said.

The seven worked more than the half-time allowed at various points between fiscal years 2008 and 2012 – all in nonteaching positions – while still collecting pensions.

The law permits former employees who weren’t teachers to work full time for three months after retirement, but after that they can work only less than 49 percent of the position’s full-time schedule.

For example, retiree Dorothy James worked almost 160 hours a month as a Title I consultant at various times between 2007 and 2011. She worked 168 hours in February and August 2011 and 136 hours in June of that year.

She worked less in 2012, but still accumulated 89 hours in July 2012, the last month she worked for the district, according to documents obtained by The Augusta Chronicle from a Georgia Open Records request.

Valerie Sherman also worked what is considered full time as a special education clerk, accumulating 128 hours in May 2009 and 120 hours in August 2012.

Board of Education President Venus Cain said that there are still questions about how the oversight occurred but that an investigation might prove futile. She said she wishes someone would “admit they dropped the ball,” but unless that takes place an investigation would be lengthy and costly.

“Do we want to waste taxpayer money to get to the truth when we may never get to the truth?” Cain said. “I don’t think we’re going to get it. ... I think there’s a culture in the system when they drop the ball, no one wants to stand up and say it or throw anybody under the bus.”

Cain said that as a school board member, by law she is unable to personally interview various employees about the issue.

She assumes a mix-up might have occurred around 2008 during a reorganization in the human resources department.

Board member Frank Dolan said he would like to see an investigation into the matter, mostly because he is unclear how such an oversight could be a mistake.

He said even if a reorganization changed certain employees’ duties, someone should have been responsible for keeping track of the hours worked by retirees.

“Somebody should be reprimanded or demoted or chastised or written up,” Dolan said. “You can’t say ‘Hold on, we lost a quarter-million dollars, let’s go get a cup of coffee.’ ”

Roberson said he is confident the new policy will prevent another oversight. Now, any retirees rehired will be coded in the computer payroll system to indicate they are retired and the restrictions of their position.

Returning employees also will sign an agreement detailing their restrictions, and the human resources department will meet annually with administrators to keep them up to date about the work limitation of retirees.

Anita Faglier, the director of finance and accounting said that before, there was no alert in the payroll system that identified employees as retired.

“Needless to say, we cannot afford these types of penalties,” Roberson said. “There’s no margin for error. This certainly cannot be tolerated again.” 

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triscuit
3084
Points
triscuit 03/11/13 - 09:50 pm
8
0
Just when you thought there

Just when you thought there was no group worse than the County Commission. I mean, it's only almost a quarter $1 million.

Little Lamb
45869
Points
Little Lamb 03/11/13 - 10:20 pm
4
1
Chump Change

That's just pocket change to the School Board, Triscuit. Some might refer to it as "leakage." No big deal.

:-(

palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 03/11/13 - 11:00 pm
8
0
The employess, themselves,
Unpublished

The employees, themselves, were aware or should have been. Too bad they can't be dinged...why is it the taxpayers??

Little Lamb
45869
Points
Little Lamb 03/11/13 - 11:33 pm
7
0
System

Yeah, palmetto, but they know how the system works. Just mark the time card and all will be well.

dichotomy
32841
Points
dichotomy 03/11/13 - 11:48 pm
8
0
COVER-UP

COVER-UP !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They know who did it but if they told us they we might expect them to take somekind of action.

It is amazing to watch Commission and the Board of Education race to see who is the most incompetent. I'd call it a tie for absolute waste of our money.

gargoyle
16906
Points
gargoyle 03/11/13 - 11:50 pm
6
0
If it wasn't for it being

If it wasn't for it being Taxpayer money the person or people involved would be updating a resume.HR professionals are hired to make sure things like this don't happen.

rebellious
20737
Points
rebellious 03/12/13 - 12:34 am
7
0
$241 BIG ONES

$241,000 is a lot of muala. Thats a lot of potatoes in Idaho. Who doesn't want more money?
Why don't our politicians get as ticked off as we do when these types of mistakes cost taxpayers dollars.
Sweet cheese and rice!

bubbasauce
20603
Points
bubbasauce 03/12/13 - 02:02 am
6
0
Boy we sure don't want to

Boy we sure don't want to open that can of worms do we now? They knew exactly what they were doing, just got caught! Augusta Richmond County you got caught! Inexcusable!

Riverman1
83712
Points
Riverman1 03/12/13 - 04:37 am
8
0
Detroit?

Retire and get one of those consulting jobs. Yesterday, the Chronicle editorial told us how poorly the Detroit goverment and school system are run. I wonder if they should have looked closer around here?

jmo
15938
Points
jmo 03/12/13 - 05:33 am
7
0
A $241,000 oversight;

no one knows how it happened or who is responsible, and they are not going to investigate and find out. Not only should there be an investigation, but the person or persons responsible should be fired (with their pensions used to pay back the money). If there is no investigation, then the "boss" should be fired.

Dixieman
14942
Points
Dixieman 03/12/13 - 06:03 am
8
0
DIXIEMAN HAS 241,000 POINTS....

....and friends in high place and he ain't giving any of them back. Or cooperating with any investigation. Or doing anything else other than continuing to jostle for his place at the government teat along with all the other little piggies. Too bad, taxpayers.

soitgoes
786
Points
soitgoes 03/12/13 - 07:39 am
7
0
the $241,000 is just the fine

that doesn't include the unauthorized overtime payments. This is blatant dereliction of duty for failing to hold someone accountable to the rules/law that was in place at the time. No need to look further; just stick it to the Taxpayer. Bogus. Unacceptable. RCBOE needs to do SOMETHING.

man of color raised with dignity and respect
14
Points
7
1
RICHMOND SCHOOL STAFF CONSEQUENCES NONEXISTENT

I was an educator in the RCSS and I have taught in the Department of Defense Schools. The Richmond County School System is not consistent with its consequences for students or for its staff members who get in legal trouble. The Code of Conduct clearly states that if students' commit certain offenses and are assigned to the Alternative School, parents must provide transportation. RCSS unlike surrounding counties and other school systems bend the rules depending on how loudly the parent screams or curses someone out at the Board of Education, or how connected the parent of the student or staff member is who gets in trouble to someone who is powerful. I have worked in a lot of states and countries and I have a Ph. D. from a University that has a permanent campus not an online campus that you visit three times a year. I am a retired LTC who has served my country with distinction and honor. I have an educational leadership degree and have taught 17 years, but I could not get an assistant principal job in Richmond County. I talked to one of Central Office Assistant Superintendents who told me I had to go the Leadership Academy first, even though I have a "real Doctorate” and wonderful evaluations and references. I wonder if this is because I read her credentials and discovered that she went to Nova a back in the day pay for profit doctorate program. This academy is not a requirement of the state to become an assistant principal or a principal; it is a Richmond County requirement. I called the state and the Georgia Department of Education. They told me I could fight it, but Richmond County is the laughing stock of Georgia behind Atlanta. You can hire people with bogus doctorates but you must attend a county made up Leadership Academy. I applied for an assistant principal and principal position. I did and was never called for an interview. Looking at the test scores it doesn't look as though the academy has been successful in it training techniques. The majority of the principals and mentors that the Assistant Superintendent has leading the academy don’t have doctorates and most of them have failing schools or have pay for profit doctorates. Pay for profits degrees are from schools where you visit the school maybe twice a year in places like Florida, Arizona, several states have them now, and the rest of your work is on-line, you can even defend your dissertation on line. Some of the schools have satellite campus in different cities they are not as bad as the pay for profit schools. My friend who still works in Richmond County recently told me that the other Assistant Supt for Elementary Ed is currently working on her doctorate from one of these pay for profit colleges. Richmond County please start demanding and hiring quality leaders with quality degrees, look at your neighbors, Columbia County will not hire you if you don't have a doctorate or specialist from a campus based school like UGA, USC, or GA Southern. Richmond County is paying teachers in classroom doctoral pay with doctorates in botany and organizational managment. I agree with the writer about Instructional Coaches being unnecessary. The instructional coach at the school where I used to work in Richmond County mug shot was in the Jail Report. The parents, staff and teachers were livid. Some teachers complained to the board. Nothing ever happened. How can you discipline my child, or tell me my dress is not appropriate or evaluate my teaching when you can’t follow the rules of society. He used to sell everything from pocketbooks, bootleg DVDs, to raffle tickets out of the school. Guess what he was accepted in Richmond County School System’s Elite Leadership Program.He is the Leadership Program now. He serves in a Leadership Role at his school. What can he tell young impressionable young children. Young black males? The Superintendent and "cabinet" know about the detainment of this individual, everyone in the school certainly knew about it the next morning. This person is in the number two spot right behind the principal. This person is currently in this "Elite" Rising Star Leadership Academy" which is the way you are promoted into the Assistant Principal/Principal or into the top tier positions at the Central Office in Richmond County. How in the world do you expect for our students to accept and follow the rules that the "leaders" of the school system develop, when their teachers and other staff members in leadership roles don’t? We are supposed to have an employee dress code? How serious can you take a person who has multiple gold teeth, tattoos up and down their arms, and their grammar is horrific. This person redelivers subject content to teachers and evaluates teachers. This is what we want in our Leadership Academy? This is what leadership means to the powers that be in Richmond County? I have been asking my friend to let me know when they open up applications for the Leadership Academy, she says they havent' officially opened it open for a while, but she knows four people who were personally asked to attend. I think expressing your inner self is fine, but when you choose the field of education, you have to realize that certain types of behavior are not acceptable. At my old school in Richmond County instructional coach is essentially the assistant principal. I think expressing your inner self is fine, but when you choose the field of education, then you have to realize that certain type of behaviors are not acceptable. I have since resigned from Richmond County and I am now a Principal in Columbia SC. Dr. Roberson I would wager that you are the only person on your leadership team of Assistant Superintendents with a real campus earned doctorate. Take a survey of your Central Office Leadership Team, Directors, and Principals and let the citizens of Richmond County know how many of them have real doctorate degrees from schools where you have to go sit in a class once or twice a week or on the weekends, where you have to sit through oral and written comps and defend for four to five hours on an established not satellite campus.I wager not many. That is why your system is failing. You have too many people taking the easy way out. That is why your Army retirees and businesses are running to the other side of the river and to Columbia, Burke, and McDuffie as fast as they can. People at the State level respect Burke, McDuffie, Lincoln, Warren and Columbia County Systems. We need ROLE MODELS, CONSEQUENCES, AND CONSISTENCY IN RICHMOND COUNTY, not people who can’t handle their personal lives.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 03/12/13 - 08:27 am
4
0
Found mistake (check) Correct

Found mistake (check)
Correct mistake (check)
Admit mistake (check)
Do the right thing (not applicable)

Setting the best of examples for everyone to learn from. Don't ever change yall!

john
979
Points
john 03/12/13 - 08:46 am
5
0
withhold

The money could be withheld from their retirement checks.

sassylassie
455
Points
sassylassie 03/12/13 - 09:37 am
5
0
Or perhaps they could hold

Or perhaps they could hold the Director or Superintendent of Personnel accountable? Wouldn't that make sense?
Oh that's right. Everybody involved including the supervisors who signed the paychecks and approved these folks being in those buildings to begin with are part of the same sorority?
I would love to see how many people at the central office, including this with "faux college degrees" are part of the same fraternity or sorority?
Some of us might be amazed... Would love to see Austin Rhodes find that out....

noxiousfumes
449
Points
noxiousfumes 03/12/13 - 10:02 am
4
1
Man of color

Though I agree with some of your statements, the grammatical mistakes in your diatribe makes me wonder about your credentials. Paragraphs make your ideas easier to read and understand. I certainly expect more from an educator, especially one with a doctorate.

Now I understand your frustration with those who have degrees from programs that may not contain the rigor of a brick and mortar university; however, online education is here to stay. I have earned degrees from major universities and I am currently working on another degree through an online program that is an extension of a university. While the delivery methods are different, the rigor is the same. The only thing that is different is not having to deal with the shenanigans that go on with grad school committees.

I am a former RCBOE educator, and I have worked with administrators who could not speak correctly, write a sentence, or even prepare a meeting agenda. Yet, these people had degrees (doctorates) from major universities. I've worked for others who had master's degrees who were far more competent. The issues at RCBOE are systemic; the existing culture and structure has to be changed. Dr. Roberson was in the process of doing that before his unfortunate illness; I don't know that he has the drive and energy to do it now.

I hope that you are happy in your current position.

noxiousfumes
449
Points
noxiousfumes 03/12/13 - 10:09 am
6
0
This is ridiculous! Richmond

This is ridiculous! Richmond County needs to have the GBI or FBI investigate the corruption in this city. Missing money and misappropriated funds need to be accounted for. The bookkeeper at Glenn Hills a few years ago stole thousands of dollars and never spent a day in jail. $25,000 goes missing at the tax office and Mr. Kendrick has nothing to say and no one knows what happened. Now we have money going to people that is unaccounted for. Yes, correcting the structure that allowed it to happen is great; however, those that were overseeing these transactions need to be held accountable. I don't care about opening a can of worms; roaches will scatter when the light is turned on and RCBOE needs some serious pest control.

Little Lamb
45869
Points
Little Lamb 03/12/13 - 10:38 am
5
0
Stream of Consciousness

NoxiousFumes posted:

Paragraphs make your ideas easier to read and understand.

Yeah, but I would like to award Man of Color the "James Joyce Prize" for March 12, 2013. Thanks for joining us, here, and welcome to the forum.

Sweet son
10365
Points
Sweet son 03/12/13 - 11:21 am
6
0
man of color's epistle could be a short book in the Bible but;

it was good. I usually don't read the long comments but I enjoyed this one. Leaving out the "supposed" grammatical problems many good points were made.

The whole situation is so wrong and smelly that maybe the School Board should check with the Commission to see if they could "reprimand" or "censure" all of those involved! LOL!! I love it! :-)! Both groups stink and are just wasting our tax dollars!

RoadKing
105
Points
RoadKing 03/12/13 - 02:07 pm
2
0
RC School taxes .....

Glad as hell I am now exempt from paying them ......

school2
3
Points
school2 03/13/13 - 08:14 pm
0
0
Right on "Man of Color Raised

Right on "Man of Color Raised with Dignity and Respect"!!!

SemperParatus
3225
Points
SemperParatus 03/16/13 - 05:59 pm
1
0
District Attorney should step in immediately

Why can't our District Attorney, who represents the people, step up to the plate and take this to the grand jury to decide if charges should be made? Asking the good old boys to police themselves clearly isn't working in this town. Let a grand jury decide what the next step should be!

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