After the Bibb County school board approved transferring Ron Collier from chief financial officer to the position of director of capital assets and contracts on Thursday evening, Colliers lawyer Jerry Lumley revealed that Collier filed a lawsuit in Bibb County Superior Court against the school district Thursday.
The lawsuit alleges that Superintendent Romain Dallemand stripped him of his duties over the systems finances in retaliation for not writing a check related to a federal program.
Collier refused to write a check in July for a $1 million invoice for a nonprofit organization called Central Georgia Partnership for Individual & Community Development.
That organization is related to the Macon Promise Neighborhood, a federal grant that aims to improve the lives of children living in the neighborhoods around Ingram-Pye and Hartley elementary schools, Ballard-Hudson Middle School and Southwest High School.
In the suit, Collier is seeking reinstatement for his position as chief financial officer, compensation for his mental anguish, humiliation and embarrassment, attorneys fees and trial by jury.
Collier and Lumley showed up at the boards meeting Thursday night at about 6:30 p.m., and Lumley said afterward it was the first time they had heard about the transfer.
On Wednesday, board attorney Randy Howard said he didnt know of any change to Colliers position as CFO.
When asked about the transfer Thursday night, Dallemand said the decision is a personnel matter and would not give details.
The suit says Collier raised questions about the invoice and asked Dallemand for more information. On July 20, Dallemand called Colliers home and said Colliers queries made Dallemand look bad, and Dallemand threatened to fire him if he didnt write a check by noon of that day.
Dallemand continued to press Collier on the check several days later, asking to pay the invoice not later than 5 p.m. on July 26.
Collier wrote a letter to Dallemand July 27, saying he had consulted with an attorney and consulted the states whistleblower laws.
I cannot in good conscience write the check, Collier said.
On July 31, Collier and Dallemand spoke to school system attorney Patrick Millsaps, though the documents dont indicate what came of that meeting. Later, Collier said he was excluded from conversations on the Macon Promise Neighborhood grant until Oct. 18, when the board approved a resolution about the grant.
After that meeting, the school districts attorneys instructed Collier to pay the invoice. Collier did approve the invoice, paid with school funds, according to the lawsuit.
The suit then notes that the school board approved a contract extension for Dallemand on Dec. 3, and the superintendent accepted it on Dec. 7.
Three days later, on Dec. 10, Collier received a letter saying he would be placed on special assignment following an investigation into his department.
The letter, however, does not specify the nature of the investigation.
Since then, Collier had been reassigned to work in a back room in the school systems warehouse, the suit states.
Howard said the investigation wrapped up Wednesday, but he has not provided more information on its findings.
The vote to transfer Colliers job titles was split 5-3, with board members Tommy Barnes, Susan Middleton, Wanda West, Ella Carter and Tom Hudson in favor, and Lynn Farmer, Gary Bechtel and Sue Sipe voting against. Also by a 5-3 margin, Sharon Roberts was appointed interim CFO.
Farmer said she voted against Colliers transfer because she had not received enough information about the matter to make an informed decision.
Bechtel said after Thursdays meeting he was had not received information from the administration about Colliers suit.
(Dallemands) not willing to share those vital things the board needs to know, which is consistent, he said.
To contact writer Andrea Castillo, call 744-4331.