The Bibb County school board decided not to put Superintendent Sharon Patterson and two other central office administrators on leave while the state’s Georgia Professional Standards Commission investigates the three for an ethics complaint.
Educating the system’s 25,000 students needs to continue, board member Susan Middleton said of the decision.
But the school board gave the top central administration strict orders not to meddle in the investigation.
“In order to protect the integrity of the process, they will be directed not to interfere in the investigation process in any way,” Middleton said.
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There are to be no inquiries made of school system employees by the three and all employees are asked to be forthcoming with the commission, Middleton said.
The school board also voted that Patterson could not be represented by the law firm of Jones, Cork and Miller, which represents the school system.
“It was a decision that we would seek outside counsel for the superintendent,” board President Tom Hudson said, although he would not elaborate. “Business will go on as usual in terms of educating our children.”
A flustered Patterson said afterward the board acted as she had expected.
“It is what it is,” she said, saying she didn’t know who, if anyone, would represent her.
The school board had a called meeting and went into executive session for more than two hours Monday night to discuss the ethics complaint that was filed by two school board members, Gary Bechtel and Lynn Farmer, against Patterson and deputy superintendent Sylvia McGee and assistant superintendent Mack Bullard.
The two board members filed the complaint Sept. 24 with the Professional Standards Commission alleging that the top Bibb school leaders investigated two principals for misconduct earlier this year, but failed to report it to the commission.
That state agency issues teacher certificates and holds educators accountable.
The Bibb County school system had investigated former Northeast High School principal Sam Scavella for admitting to having an affair with a subordinate. He resigned in May.
Patterson said she didn’t report that investigation to the standards commission on the advice of her attorneys at Jones, Cork and Miller.
The school system also investigated former Appling Middle School principal Robert Stevenson for alleged mental and physical abuse of students. He also resigned.
The commission says Patterson did notify them of the Stevenson investigation about Nov. 16.
The commission requires school officials to notify them of suspected educator misconduct within 90 days.
Patterson has said neither she nor her staff did anything wrong and they plan to cooperate fully.
It may take up to three months for the commission to determine whether Patterson, McGee or Bullard did anything wrong.
The commission could render a not guilty finding or a warning, to a worst case scenario of pulling teacher certification.
Hudson said until then the school system will continue to work without holding any grudges.
“There will be no animosity among any board member,” he said.
To contact writer Julie Hubbard, call 744-4331.