Originally created 02/10/00

Board yet to set date for hearing



A Richmond County teacher recently acquitted of sexually assaulting a student will have a hearing before the Richmond County School Board to determine if he has a job.

The school board met behind closed doors Wednesday for about 30 minutes before announcing that no action was taken regarding the status of Alphonza Griffin's teaching job.

The hearing date will be announced after the 10-member board works out a convenient time, Superintendent Charles Larke said Wednesday.

"He is a certified employee and is entitled to a hearing," Dr. Larke said.

Mr. Griffin, 35, a teacher at Hephzibah High School, was indicted Oct. 26 on a charge of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old student after allegedly giving her a ride home between Feb. 23 and March 11.

The student graduated in June.

He was placed on paid leave April 2, but in November, the board placed him on unpaid leave and decided to wait until after the criminal proceeding to hold an administrative hearing.

Mr. Griffin's attorney, Christopher Blanchard, sent school board Attorney Pete Fletcher a letter Friday asking that Mr. Griffin be reinstated.

"Mr. Griffin presented a wealth of evidence to disprove (the alleged victim's) accusation," Mr. Blanchard said in the letter. "In addition, the testimony of other teachers showed that the school had not clearly articulated any policy forbidding the transportation of students prior to the incident alleged.

"I think you would agree with me that it would be unwise for the school district to treat Mr. Griffin more harshly than other teachers who have engaged in the same conducts. Therefore, adverse action against Mr. Griffin on that ground is unwarranted."

The Richmond County school system has not fired a teacher since 1994. Glenda Nixon, a former Bayvale Elementary teacher was fired after pleading no contest to simple battery relating to performing oral sex on a 14-year-old boy who stayed at her home.

In other business, the board:

Rejected the application by two local women to start a charter school. Belle Lambert and Fay Hall, partners in a job training company, wanted to open a school to help at-risk students.

School board members rejected the proposal, siting that the proposed $600,000 start-up cost was too much. Additionally, the board would have had to provide transportation and lunches to the students, they said.

Voted to check into the cost of holding high school graduations at a place other than Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center. The civic center wants to charge the board as much as $35,000 for free parking for students' relatives and for setting up the stage. Last year the board paid $18,000 for parking.

Reach Faith Johnson at (706) 823-3765.