Teachers are excused on inauguration day

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Richmond County Superintendent Dana Bedden is making a special exception for teachers and staff members wanting to take off Jan. 20 to participate in activities for the presidential inauguration.

Students will be out because the school calendar set that Tuesday aside as a professional development day. The day before is a federal holiday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Dr. Bedden developed a special exception for educators wanting to be excused from work on inauguration day.

"We figured for a unique historical event we wanted to create flexibility," he said Tuesday.

Immediately after the election, requests began coming in for time off Jan. 20, Dr. Bedden said. Some principals granted the requests, and some did not. There was no consistency, so he stepped in, allowing principals to permit as much as 5 percent of teaching staffs to take the day off for the inauguration.

There's a catch, however. Teachers must submit the request in advance and present a plan for how they will incorporate the experience into the classroom when they return.

"We expected a pretty sharp uptick (in requests for time off)," Human Resources Director Norman Hill said, but by the close of business Monday only 22 requests had been made.

That's about 1 percent of the system's teaching staff, Mr. Hill said.

Dr. Bedden recalled times while teaching in Washington, D.C., that schools made similar accommodations for significant historic events, but this is the first time he has seen this outside of the nation's capital.

Richmond County spends about $22 million a month on personnel, which comes to about $1 million a day, the superintendent said.

The inaugural day flexibility extends only to Tuesday. Anyone stretching the time off to Wednesday risks losing a day's pay.

"We wanted to be supportive, but also we wanted to be accountable," Dr. Bedden said.

On Jan. 20, the staff development day might also schedule a break coinciding with the inauguration, he said.

Jeff Hubbard, the president of the Georgia Association of Educators, applauded the flexibility of Dr. Bedden and the school system.

"We've had a number of school systems that are being extremely inflexible," he said. "We've had people put in for personal leave months ago, and they've been told if they miss that day they'll be docked pay and it will be put in their personnel file."

Regardless of whether the president is a Democrat or a Republican, a presidential inauguration can provide dramatic teaching moments for students, he said. If school systems can allow time off for class reunions and football games, then they should certainly allow time for such a historic event, Mr. Hubbard said.

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

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concerned mom of 2
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concerned mom of 2 01/07/09 - 09:37 am
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I don't think many of you

I don't think many of you commented when Athens closed their schools because administrators and staff wanted to attend a Georgia vs. Florida "Border Bash Football Game". Let's be real here! Black or White –History or Historic Event- Fair is Fair! If you stop spending so much time focusing on the negative, you would have more energy to focus on the positive. Then maybe your employer can get some work out of you today.

Pocketrocket
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Pocketrocket 01/07/09 - 09:42 am
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Can I take the day off for

Can I take the day off for Adolf Hitlers Birthday?

Safe at Home
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Safe at Home 01/07/09 - 09:42 am
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this is just the

this is just the beginning....Obama will be put on US currency....US stamps and he will get his own holiday and you will be requird to give your employees a paid day off to celebrate the great black hope.....change is coming....payback because your great great great grandfather owned a slave.

griesella
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griesella 01/07/09 - 09:43 am
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"Closed their schools", huh?

"Closed their schools", huh? That should make everything hunky-dory, all fair and equal too. You do wrong, I do wrong, when will their be time for me.

aaa
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aaa 01/07/09 - 09:47 am
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"Regardless of whether the

"Regardless of whether the president is a Democrat or a Republican, a presidential inauguration can provide dramatic teaching moments for students, he said." We all know the truth. This would NEVER happen if the President-elect was a Republican. Even if he or she was a black Republican. Just more liberal bias and lies.

DMac_357
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DMac_357 01/07/09 - 09:55 am
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Wow, after reading most of

Wow, after reading most of these post, I don't know where to start my comments. I don't think I read the same story that most of you did. Dr. Dana Bedden Richmond County Schools Superintendent, made a decision to let 5% of the teaching staffs take the day off for the historic event of Obama's inauguration. Nowhere did it say that only black teachers could take the day off. Nowhere did it say anything about any race of teachers having their request disapproved or discriminated against. Where are these supposed lawsuits going to come from and for what reason? Some of you ask why are we considering giving a day off to these teachers for this event and not for others. Well, the occasion dictates the situation. If teachers wanted to take off for other inaugurations, all they had to do was request the day off. Since the demand wasn't high, it wasn't an issue. What Hubbard said was correct. If we can let teachers off work for football games, why not this? Anyway, out of all Richmond County teachers, only 22 have put in for the day off. This is another non-issue and some people just want something to complain over. And the handout comment is just plain ignorant.

justthefacts
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justthefacts 01/07/09 - 09:56 am
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I wonder if they have begun

I wonder if they have begun the work on Mt. Rushmore yet?

I_Wear_Lipstick_2
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I_Wear_Lipstick_2 01/07/09 - 10:01 am
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Did the schools all shut down

Did the schools all shut down 8 years ago when George W. Bush took office? It was a pretty daggum historical event considering his father was POTUS just eight years before, and he got the job w/o winning the majority of the popular vote. Ehh he was just another white guy though. Let's celebrate the black guy instead. Give me a break.

I_Wear_Lipstick_2
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I_Wear_Lipstick_2 01/07/09 - 10:02 am
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lmao justthefacts.

lmao justthefacts.

DMac_357
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DMac_357 01/07/09 - 10:04 am
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POCKETROCKET - if you have

POCKETROCKET - if you have the day to take off, you can take off for KKK day for all anybody cares. If you earned the day off, it's yours to take when you choose. TIRED OF THE BS - Please go back and read the article. You missed the 2d paragraph where it stated that students will be out of school because that Tuesday was set as a professional development day. Read the article and not just the comments before you start commenting.

to tell the truth1
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to tell the truth1 01/07/09 - 10:11 am
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It is a crying shame that

It is a crying shame that racism has to be incorporated into every chance somebody get to do it. This is requested time off of these teachers own accrued time earned and if they want to go and "pick cotton" so be it. It is an historical event.

KingJames
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KingJames 01/07/09 - 10:18 am
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For whatever reason that I

For whatever reason that I can't remember right now, I took the day off 8 years ago when President Bush was inagurated. I watched the entire swearing in and then Clinton's departure on TV. That was very historic to me, as it was the first time I really got the chance to do so. I didn't think about skin color at the time (there was really no reason to). This next inaguration is another historic event as all of them are. The difference here is that we have a very unpopular outgoing president and, yes the first ever black person to be elected president. Both of those gentlemen give more meaning to the inaguration than ever before. People are happy to see Bush leave, and are glad to see someone else (anyone else) come into office. Had Sen. Clinton won the democratic nomination instead and defeated McCain, this would still be just as historic (a woman who happened to have been first lady elected president). Had McCain won, it would have been just as historic (a woman VP). I would take time off from work to watch those inagurations, too. Just like being stuck on stupid, you all are stuck on race.

christian134
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christian134 01/07/09 - 10:21 am
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If you can't see the racial

If you can't see the racial special treatment about this inauguration then...Oh please the time has come and gone for playing these games...Of course this is racial...The first black President voted in against all odds where a white President with the same resume of "friends and unexperienced" survives via biased media to become our President...We have to accept him but we don't have to make new rules just to give honor and glory after all his is a man people not a god...

elliottness
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elliottness 01/07/09 - 10:24 am
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i think everyone who has a

i think everyone who has a non essential job also should be given the day off to see the inauguration live.just think also you'll see the monkey from crawford taking his last helicopter ride of shame around washington.laura seems to be the only decent one in the family, but after 8 years good riddance also! please take the janis joplin wannabe daughters also,and please never show your faces again! if we could find just 5 reporters with a piece of a backbone,bush would be under investigation today,and on his way to prison, but this is america,where in fact crime does pay,look at all the wealthy people,not an honest one in the bunch!

christian134
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christian134 01/07/09 - 10:24 am
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It is great your job allowed

It is great your job allowed you to take off from work but that is slightly different than doing so in public schools just to honor the first black President in our history...You do for one do for all? What you do in personal time or work time is your business...Unless the a national law is passed to allow this to be a sanctioned national holiday then the schools should remain opened... Furthermore this man is not supposed to have a color other than what represents this nation--Red, White and Blue...American not Black American or African American but American...I resent the distinction...

jack234
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jack234 01/07/09 - 10:28 am
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Christian123: Read my lips,

Christian123: Read my lips, even you should get this. This was never implemented before because there was never this much interest before. This will probably happen only twice in our lifetime with such interest. i.e. 2008 and 2012. HELLO! HELLO!
I guess some people just refuse to accept this as historical. Get real or you are going to be left behind again. You don't get a do-over, you need to get it right the first time. My bags are packed - I'll come back and be part of oral history to all my neighbors and be the envy of the neighborhood. It's still not too late to get your commenrative coins, but they are going fast. Even Fox will be there with their little sly comments. But who really cares. A great day coming. HELLO! HELLO! agin.

takeme2
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takeme2 01/07/09 - 10:30 am
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Look at all the bitterness

Look at all the bitterness displayed by white augusta. Your head is stuck so far up your behinds that you can't simply rejoice for one second. I wonder how many of you took off of work when "precious Palin" came to augusta. All these comments just proves that racism is still alive especially here in "Rich-Man" county. Just Pathetic!!!!!

jack234
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jack234 01/07/09 - 10:31 am
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Christian678: You have been

Christian678: You have been making the distinction all of '08, now it comes back to bite you. HELLO! HELLO! HELLO!

HotFoot
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HotFoot 01/07/09 - 10:31 am
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Hey, moron

Hey, moron (wantchangecashadollar, if it's difficult to figure which moron I'm talking about), as I've said before, I'll leave when I'm good and ready. Thank god this area has other people who agree with me, or are at least open-minded. I actually LIKE Augusta, mostly. But the mentality evidenced on the comment boards is dishearteningly backward. First, you folks didn't READ THE ARTICLE. IMO, the headline was misleading. Did you read beyond the BIG TYPE??? Second, wantchange, please DON"T venture out of the South. Yeah, those hairy, smelly women are plenty scary and would make short work of you, shcmendrick (and the definition on Dictionary.com is way off...better check a real Yiddish dictionary).

KingJames
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KingJames 01/07/09 - 10:32 am
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DMac_357, your 8:55 post was

DMac_357, your 8:55 post was right on the money. To_tell_the_truth, I agree with you. If people have time to take off from work, then what is the problem?

HotFoot
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HotFoot 01/07/09 - 10:32 am
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oops, meant "schmendrick".

oops, meant "schmendrick". And by the way, just how many of you mouth breathers even have children in the Richmond County schools?

I_Wear_Lipstick_2
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I_Wear_Lipstick_2 01/07/09 - 10:33 am
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Of course only 22% of

Of course only 22% of teachers have requested to take the day off. Why take it off when you'll be allowed to watch everything at school??? No kids, administrative/work day...really means tvs on and sit in your classroom to "plan"....

jack234
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jack234 01/07/09 - 10:35 am
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If you say its racism, that

If you say its racism, that would give them too much credit. Lets call it ignorance and people stuck on the "good old days" News Flash: Those days are gone but we stuck with you. What a life you must have!! HELLO! HELLO! The buzzards were just waiting to jump on this article. Hello! HELLO!

jack234
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jack234 01/07/09 - 10:37 am
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Lipstick: read my lips.

Lipstick: read my lips. Unlike you, some people want to be there to be part of history. Feel free to take the day off and go watch Bush load the U-Haul. We won't mind. HELLO! HELLO!

christian134
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christian134 01/07/09 - 10:40 am
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What is your point jack234?

What is your point jack234? As for as the other comment I have to say that the most pathetic ideology of all is voting for someone who was so grossly under qualified with extremist liberal views as well as friends to be voted into the highest office of this nation...Now that is pathetic...I have to accept him as well as pray for him and our nation's survival but I don't have to like what he stands for...He is not special he is a man who aspires to be, hopefully, a good American President...

christian134
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christian134 01/07/09 - 10:43 am
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jack234 calm down and get to

jack234 calm down and get to class...They are going to start without you...

Tujeez1
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Tujeez1 01/07/09 - 10:44 am
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You know, the thing I didn't

You know, the thing I didn't see in the article is wether the teachers are having to take personal leave or are getting the day off to use the "experience" as an educational tool. Some discrepancy there. IF 5% of the teachers are getting the day off "with" pay and don't have to take a "personal" day off, then the rest of the staff should get an extra days pay or an extra "personal" day off. That would only be fair and equal treatment.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 01/07/09 - 10:45 am
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I really don't see what all

I really don't see what all the fuss is about. This was a scheduled teacher's workday and if teacher's want to use one of their personal days to go to the inaguration, then what's the issue. If it had been a regular school day and they closed the school so teachers could attend then I could see where their would be a discrimination issue because it has never been done for any other incoming president. The fact that Obama is our first bi-racial president makes this event more prevelant but it's just by luck (or maybe not) the teacher's work day fell on the day of the inaguration and the students will not be effected.

I_Wear_Lipstick_2
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I_Wear_Lipstick_2 01/07/09 - 10:56 am
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jack234, do you read my posts

jack234, do you read my posts before you comment on them? Or do you just decide to comment on what the voices in your head are saying?

jack234
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jack234 01/07/09 - 10:57 am
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Since it is a personal day

Since it is a personal day they are taking, they can go fishing, if they so choose. That's the law. Christian893: Get a life and understand the rule about personal days. The innaugration, unlike fishing is a good teaching tool. HELLO! HELLO! Had Bush been the first white president after 43 Black ones, that would have been historical. HELLO! HELLO! Learn to celebrate with American. Don't forever be an old stick in the mud. You might be stepped on. HELLO! HELLO! HELLO!

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