Disciplinary issues went unreported

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Almost overnight, Murphey Middle School went from being labeled one of the most dangerous schools in Georgia to barely having a discipline problem.

That turnaround was a mere illusion, according to a two-year investigation released Tuesday to The Augusta Chronicle .

The report showed that about 2,000 discipline incidents were not initially reported during the 2005-06 school year, the same year Murphey was trying to get off the state's "persistently dangerous" list that it shared with two other schools.

Murphey was removed from the list the following year when school data showed that discipline had dramatically improved.

After being questioned by a reporter about the findings, some Richmond County school board members said this is the latest example of putting inexperienced educators in the wrong positions and not giving them proper training.

The discipline referrals were placed in student files and collected on Assistant Principal Douglas Jackson's desk because he hadn't been trained on how to electronically report them and didn't have time for paperwork, the report said. At the time, he had been given the job to administer discipline by Principal Tonethia Beasley, who was on maternity leave and was later transferred to Collins Elementary.

Her absence left an inexperienced assistant principal and a substitute principal running Murphey, which was in the midst of converting to a charter school.

What resulted was "sloppy" record-keeping, board member Helen Minchew said.

For instance, some incidents, such as cheering on a fight, were recorded as fights. Some actual fights were not recorded as such.

The investigation found 25 of the 2,000 discipline incidents warranted a tribunal hearing, but it didn't find evidence that Mr. Jackson intentionally tried to "hide" reports. Mr. Jackson "made it very clear that (Ms. Beasley) never issued a directive for him not to send any cases to tribunal."

Mr. Jackson said Tuesday that he had to choose between managing the school or doing paperwork and he chose the former.

He was unable to enter discipline referrals into the county's computer system and had to wait until Ms. Beasley returned in January 2006, according to the report.

The Chronicle reported Feb. 19, 2006, that Murphey had sent no students to tribunals to be disciplined. Two weeks later, according to the investigation, the school began reporting discipline incidents.

"Ms. Beasley agreed that it did look suspicious that the entry of reports for Murphey increased after the newspaper article was published," the report said.

A month later, former Superintendent Charles Larke publicly acknowledged the investigation, citing "clerical errors."

"Ms. Beasley stated that the timing was truly just a coincidence," the report said.

In the investigative report, Ms. Beasley also denied allegations that she was, among other things, rude to state Department of Education monitors who were sent to assist the school because it was on the needs-improvement list.

The Murphey incident was used by school board members to push Dr. Larke into retirement.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

FINDINGS


The investigation also found:


- Students had suspensions reduced but the days missed were counted as unexcused absences. This should have triggered a policy that sends truant students to juvenile court, but it didn't.


- Students who were suspended multiple times should have been sent to tribunal as "chronic disciplinary problems," but they weren't. They didn't receive the appropriate interventions as a result.

Comments (38) Add comment
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patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 01/30/08 - 05:22 am
0
0
The biggest "clerical error"

The biggest "clerical error" made was by the school board when they kept Supt. Larke on the job for the last ten+ years of his "service". Now that that problem has been taken care of, I'm confident we'll see a number of improvements.

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 01/30/08 - 05:57 am
0
0
How many people believe that

How many people believe that the reasons Mr. Jackson didn't make necessary disciplinary reports to the GDOE were because he "didn't have time for paperwork" and that "he hadn't been trained on how to electronically file them?"

Did the GDOE fall for the same excuses several years ago when the Gwinnett County school system underreported its annual disciplinary problems by 40,000?

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
7622
Points
ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 01/30/08 - 08:14 am
0
0
Quack, quack, waddle waddle,

Quack, quack, waddle waddle, quack quack, waddle waddle!

scarletohara
0
Points
scarletohara 01/30/08 - 08:26 am
0
0
Oh p-l-e-a-s-e! Do you

Oh p-l-e-a-s-e! Do you really believe this? Richmond County principals want their schools to look good on paper - or at least better than the chaotic, dangerous, centers of no-learning and no-discipline that they are. My son, who now teaches in the Columbia County school system, says Richmond County teachers are routinely told they have "too many write ups". That's how they get off the "bad" list. It's as simple as that.

WHATDIDIDO
0
Points
WHATDIDIDO 01/30/08 - 08:56 am
0
0
Yeah, I can see where this

Yeah, I can see where this was Dr. Larke's fault. I guess to some he is to blame for anything that goes wrong for the next ten years.

ripjones
2
Points
ripjones 01/30/08 - 09:19 am
0
0
Hypocrites2008 -- I can sure

Hypocrites2008 -- I can sure tell which way your head slants. Normally, I would say that Mr. Jackson should have gone to his Superintendent, and said that he was "having to decide between paperwork and administering", but unfortunately, Dr. Larke probably couldn't have offered any help -- he was too busy fighting lawsuits of his own. The then Richmond County School Board, was negligent in their duties, or blind. And while we are talking about responsibility, unless this was the Immaculate Conception again, Ms. Beasley had at least several months to train/advise the people that would be handling things while she was out on leave. Finally, let's be honest here. The disicipline problem falls back on home life and parental involvement, the the lack of either or both. The kids are not in a mindset to learn.

pofwe
5
Points
pofwe 01/30/08 - 09:25 am
0
0
What do you expect when the

What do you expect when the faculty is lazy & ignorant about the process of disciplinary action? Who knows what else they don't know.

lifelongresidient
0
Points
lifelongresidient 01/30/08 - 09:29 am
0
0
i will say it again,RICHMOND

i will say it again,RICHMOND COUNTY will continue to have problems until the put the concept of learning ahead of the so called "needs of the at risk" child. of which there is NO SUCH THING!!!! an at risk child is no more than a SORRY child, who don't want to learn, raised by SORRY parents who has and wants nothing. so why not get rid of the problem children by sending them back to be raised by their SORRY parents, allowing a more resources to be spent on the poor children who want to learn and make something of themselves.

dani
12
Points
dani 01/30/08 - 09:51 am
0
0
I finally understand why

I finally understand why Larke was paid so much money. It was for his accomplishments.

Unbelievable
84
Points
Unbelievable 01/30/08 - 10:05 am
0
0
This may be the quote of the

This may be the quote of the year, "an at risk child is no more than a SORRY child, who don't want to learn, raised by SORRY parents who has and wants nothing." I agree (somewhat). There are children in this, and other, schools that do not want to learn. Their parents use the school system as a daycare. I think there is something very wrong when a school has students whose age range from 12 to 18 years old. Especially considering it is only a three year school (6th thru 8th grades). It would be nice if the state had school 'camps' that these older students could go to. Maybe learn a trade and hopefully keep a handful of them out of jail in the process.

jackfruitpaper833
41
Points
jackfruitpaper833 01/30/08 - 11:06 am
0
0
Where is the data entry

Where is the data entry clerk? Don't all schools have one or is it just high schools. Or, why not create a position down at the main office (if there isn't one already), and let a clerical support person enter this data?

Little Lamb
45828
Points
Little Lamb 01/30/08 - 11:26 am
0
0
Why not create a position

Why not create a position down at the main office and let a support person enter this data? Because the school system doesn't want unflattering data entered.

justus4
99
Points
justus4 01/30/08 - 01:05 pm
0
0
Incompetence is high in this
Unpublished

Incompetence is high in this school district. In fact, it runs high throughout the state. Why? Why are people promoted without being a subject-matter-expert? The answer is at the heart of many of our social ills and insiders don't have a clue to the damage being done. It's too bad teachers are failing, schools are failing, and so goes the country. These people getting paid to teach kids should change professions or get with the program.

good7ness7
1
Points
good7ness7 01/30/08 - 02:07 pm
0
0
Honesty appears to be

Honesty appears to be lacking/absent!

jackfruitpaper833
41
Points
jackfruitpaper833 01/30/08 - 02:19 pm
0
0
I'd rather have the data

I'd rather have the data entered and up for review to any and all who wants it, there is no need to be ashamed, in the end it's going to be reported anyway?

142
Points
Dan White 01/30/08 - 02:23 pm
0
0
Middle school principals will

Middle school principals will do anything to keep from suspending a student. Silent lunch for a week. Eating lunch in the office for a week. Cooling off in the office for an hour or two. After all, suspensions create a bad grade under No Child Left Behind. This kind of non-reporting is not just a Richmond problem - it goes on everywhere. The administrators send the little thugs back into class to continue to tear up the educational process. They need to be put out and schools need to be rewarded instead of penalized when kids are suspended. The schools with the most suspensions should get an award and top recognition for controlling the educational environment.

jackfruitpaper833
41
Points
jackfruitpaper833 01/30/08 - 02:35 pm
0
0
Where are the Ms. Laney's,

Where are the Ms. Laney's, Bethune-Cookmans, Marva Collins, Ursula Collins, Janie Lowe's of this era?

ripjones
2
Points
ripjones 01/30/08 - 02:59 pm
0
0
Justus4 - You are full of

Justus4 - You are full of crap. The teachers are not FAILING ! Most of them are busting their butts to not only teach, but also to handle the stupid paperwork required for "No Child Left Behind", which wouldn't even be needed if the damn parents would do their job, and have children ready to learn, instead of calling in bomb threats !!!!! Know what you are talking about, before you shoot off your mouth. I'm married to a teacher, and I don't think she is the only considerate, focused one in Richmond or Columbia counties.

Evans Ga.
0
Points
Evans Ga. 01/30/08 - 03:48 pm
0
0
He didnt have time to do the

He didnt have time to do the paperwork-YEAH RIGHT!

dani
12
Points
dani 01/30/08 - 04:19 pm
0
0
Take the large corporation.

Take the large corporation. They hide the bad, show only the good, and the CEO's walk away with a large bonus. Doesn't this remind you of our last superintendent.

142
Points
Dan White 01/30/08 - 04:35 pm
0
0
Good point, jack and you too,

Good point, jack and you too, ripjones. the No Child Left Behind Act is leaving our children behind because the administrators and teachers focus has changed from teaching to paper work and keeping miscreants in school instead of kicking them out of school or paddling their misbehaving behinds. Bush screwed up the schools with this program and it's got to go!

jab0226
0
Points
jab0226 01/30/08 - 05:33 pm
0
0
WOW, how the opinions vary

WOW, how the opinions vary about what is going on in the educational system in the Richmond County/Columbia County area. I am a product of the RCSS. I believe as a productive part of the society now that a few things need to be covered before casting stones as such: 1)Does every child ,good parents or not deserve to be a productive part of society? 2)Who elected these officials to position such as Dr. Larke in the first place? 3)What is done with the inefficent people that show lack of ability/excuses about not being able to enter diciplinary action into the system? 4)If the staff is not properly trained to lead ,how can we expect the students to effectively follow? I guess that I am looking for what set me straight.I was one of the problem students until I met a teacher that had such high morales and saw potential in me and was genuine about my education. Genuine in the fact of accountability was high,I was held accountable for my actions, and she was still a mentor in the same instance.What I am saying that the system needs more leaders like Constance Stokes in place and RCSS would not suffer from the likes of cases like these at Murphy Middle School.

GSneed
0
Points
GSneed 01/30/08 - 06:01 pm
0
0
I do agree that Richmond Co.

I do agree that Richmond Co. will continue to have some serious issues until they FOCUS on the concept of learning rather than that of "at risk children". Still, it clearly states that Mr. Jackson made a choice. Yet, you still seem to blame Ms. Beasley, Dr. Larke, AND all of Richmond County. Geez! Please recognize that Mr. Jackson's choice was wrong, and stop blaming everybody else you can possibly think of!

dani
12
Points
dani 01/30/08 - 06:06 pm
0
0
+Sneed..Why not? That's the

+Sneed..Why not? That's the way it's done on here.

usually though it's 'blame

Bush

GSneed
0
Points
GSneed 01/30/08 - 06:08 pm
0
0
I guess it's the American

I guess it's the American way...unjustly beat up anybody we want so we can feel better about ourselves.

142
Points
Dan White 01/30/08 - 06:16 pm
0
0
The staff is properly

The staff is properly trained. They are certified by the State of GA. Either the certification process is flawed and needs to be changed or there is too much paperwork with the NCLB, or they are not doing their jobs. I choose the paperwork nightmare with NCLB as the culprit.

jackfruitpaper833
41
Points
jackfruitpaper833 01/30/08 - 06:28 pm
0
0
Well all that survey money

Well all that survey money being spent Dr. Bedden needs to shift some to create some Data Entry Clerk positions. These positions should be directed at maintaining such data IMO.

gracewhitfield
0
Points
gracewhitfield 01/30/08 - 08:01 pm
0
0
The failure of the education

The failure of the education system has enough blame to go around. 1) A country that pays millions to someone who can play ball, rather than pay those millions to the people who prepare our future leaders. (2) Parents who go to school wanting to beat up the teacher because of what little Johnny comes home and tells them rather than waiting to hear what the teacher has to say, and then kicking little Johnny's [filtered word] for not behaving properly in school and finally (3) the kids who think it's okay to be educationally inferior to kids immigrating here from other countries. I can remeber going to school in 70's and 80's when educating a child was a joint effort, maybe we need to get back to those days.

Rozzie2003
5
Points
Rozzie2003 01/30/08 - 08:22 pm
0
0
I ask the question, how many

I ask the question, how many of you have been in a RC school
lately? Have you seen a lot of good teachers doing a great job?
Yes, I have, because I have visited schools.
Schools reflect their neighborhoods, and some of our neighborhoods are struggling--therefore, those schools in struggling neighborhood are also struggling,
Columbia County is avoiding struggling people. No more apartments because you may get some Section H people--that the word floating around Colunbia County.Private schools are king at hiding disclipine problems. Some of the children suspended in Rchmond County wouldn't be suspended if they were Mr. Bigshot's children.
Yes, Rchmond County school system has its share of problems and will continue to have them because it is trying to educate some children whose parents don't value education. There are children from dysfunctional families, no families, foster care, on probation, single mothers, single divorced mothers, on,and on.
Yet, we expect the teacher to educate all of them. Those who never do homework--parents don't attend PTA and teachers conferences---wemust educate all of them. Some teachers need help and some don't need to be in a classroom.
A

Rozzie2003
5
Points
Rozzie2003 01/30/08 - 08:34 pm
0
0
Let us volunteer to go into

Let us volunteer to go into the schools and help some child to value education or to teach some child o to behave.
We could also help the teacher with non-teaching duties
and manage children in the lunchroom.I was in another city recently and visited a school . There were retired men from the neighborhood supervising the lunchroom. Yes, they had been trained to perform their duties and were having a great time doing relating to the middle school children.

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