The Bibb County school board agreed Thursday that a Rutland High School counselor, found to have left students on a Florida field trip unsupervised earlier this year, be fired.
That chaperone, Jenny Scarborough, had appealed to the school board her termination by interim Superintendent Sylvia McGee and an impartial tribunal.
Canon Hill, a school system attorney, recommended the board follow the tribunal’s decision.
“We had the evidence and felt the decision from the tribunal should be upheld,” school board President Gary Bechtel said. “She had not acted appropriately.”
Neither Scarborough nor her attorney attended Thursday’s board meeting. She will have 30 days to appeal to the state board, Hill said.
Scarborough had worked 12 years in the school district, officials said.
In February, two Rutland High School teachers left a group of students unsupervised in an Orlando, Fla., hotel for about three hours while the teachers went to dinner and attended a Cirque du Soleil show. McGee said the school district concluded in its investigation there was “willful neglect of duty and responsibilities” by the two teacher chaperones who were tasked with monitoring 19 Rutland marketing students during the school field trip. Seven of the students were expelled from school for having sex and drinking alcohol during the trip, and an eighth student was expelled for supplying the alcohol. “Two (chaperones) went to the show, and 17 (students) stayed” behind, McGee said in an earlier interview. The other Rutland chaperone, marketing teacher Thomas Bates, resigned.
John Philip Fox, Scarborough’s attorney, issued a statement to the Telegraph earlier this year saying they disagreed with the termination. The statement said Gail Gilbert, who was Rutland High’s principal at the time of the incident, testified at the tribunal hearing that she did not discuss a safety or student-monitoring plan with Bates before the trip and that Scarborough had never before chaperoned an overnight trip.
“As was testified to during the hearing, the attendance at the Cirque du Soleil show was planned as a reward for two students who had academically excelled during the year, and the safety and student monitoring plan used on this particular trip was the same as those used during previous Rutland DECA trips,” the statement also said.
In other action Thursday, the school board hired Eric Carlyle, 38, as the new principal of Howard Middle School. Carlyle has 16 years experience and served most recently as principal of Swainsboro Middle School in Emanuel County.
“I am ecstatic to be joining Bibb County schools,” he said. “I am going to roll up my sleeves and come in and help students reach their full potential.”
The board also said farewell to Cathy Magouyrk, deputy superintendent of teaching and learning.
Magouyrk resigned from the district Wednesday to take a job in Douglas County.
She said her decision to leave was based on economic reasons. Her last day is July 30.
“I have enjoyed working for the Bibb County school district and with excellent principals and teachers,” she said.
The system will name an interim replacement from within the system soon, Bechtel said.
To contact writer Julie Hubbard, call 744-4331.