Twiggs school board fires superintendent

The Twiggs County school board fired Superintendent Franklin Perry this week, but board members will say little about the circumstances.

The board voted 3-1 Tuesday, with one member abstaining, to terminate Perry’s contract early.

Perry earned about $125,000 a year, and his three-year contract was set to expire later this year, on Dec. 15.

His last work day is Friday, school board Chairman David Sanders said.

“I can’t get into details about it because we are negotiating the settlement of his contract,” Sanders said.

Perry did not return phone calls seeking comment. Assistant Superintendent Carol Brown will take over as interim superintendent next week.

Sanders and board members Shirley Stokes and Yolanda Height approved the firing, while new member Teresa Blackshear abstained.

The opposing board member, Ethel Stanley, said the item was not on the agenda for Tuesday’s regular board meeting.

During the meeting, when the board got to personnel services, Height made a motion to buy out Perry’s contract, and the motion passed.

“I don’t know what they have against him other than dislike,” Stanley said.

A year ago, board members met with their attorney during a meeting to discuss terminating Perry’s contract, but they left without taking a vote. At the time the board was still in debt.

When the school board voted to hire Perry in 2006, the system was about $1.5 million in the red and had just approved closing Dry Branch Elementary School to save money. The system is now in the black.

During Perry’s tenure, the system cut central office staff from about 20 positions down to 10. One principal position and two assistant principal positions also were cut. At one point, 15 teacher contracts were not renewed. Also, some electives, such as band and programs for gifted students, were also eliminated to reduce spending.

During his term, at least three principals and some teachers resigned. A Twiggs County resident who attends board meetings said there had been tension between Perry and the board for some time.

“There was a lot of unhappiness,” resident Jerry Fincher said.

According to Perry’s contract, he could be terminated early because of sickness, disability or if the board could show just cause for dismissal.

The board could also terminate without cause by giving a 90-day notice to the superintendent and agreeing to pay a severance package, including his salary and benefits through the end of the contract.