School Superintendent said no to Sheriff’s request for robocall

News

Sheriff Stacy Jarrard

DAHLONEGA, Ga. –- Lumpkin County School Superintendent Dr. Robert Brown refused repeated requests by Sheriff Stacy Jarrard to issue a robocall last Thursday after a threat was reported by a Lumpkin County High School student.

“The first I heard about a threat was Thursday evening when parents started calling me at home,” Jarrard said. “I couldn’t hardly hang up the phone before the next call came in from parents wanting to know what was going on at the school.” Jarrard continued,“That went on until about 1:30 in the morning.”

Jarrard said he made his first call to school officials around 6 p.m. on Thursday, September 21, to request that a robocall be issued in order to keep parents informed about what had occurred and to let them know if it was safe to send students to school on Friday. Then he called twice more but each time, his request for a robocall was refused.

“They said they didn’t want to scare parents because they didn’t believe the threat was credible,” he said.

But as students got home from school on Thursday, word of the threat began to spread and soon, the Facebook pages began to blow up with frightened parents seeking information.

Jarrard said today the threat “doesn’t appear to be believable,” but he added that his office is still investigating. “I met with the principal, SRO, the child, and the child’s mother who was extremely cooperative and helpful. We have taken all of the child’s electronic equipment to see if there is anything of a threatening nature.”

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

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Lumpkin County Board of Education holds called meeting

Business, News

LUMPKIN COUNTY, Ga.– The Lumpkin County Board of Education held a called meeting on Friday August 24. According to Superintendent Dr. Rob Brown, the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the press release that was posted earlier this week on the Lumpkin County School System Facebook page. He also stated during opening comments that, “We’re here tonight to ensure our community understands that our elected school board members do desire their feedback and are available to them.”

Brown opened the floor to anyone who had concerns regarding school system finances. Dahlonega resident, Seth Alhadeff, addressed his concerns with the board, “The first talking point I’d like to mention is the elephant in the room; the senior tax exemption.” Alhadeff suggested that the board should allow the community to share their opinions on the tax exemption, in order to find a solution, “If you guys [LCBOE] would team up with the county and possibly host a public opinion focus group, to get everyone’s opinion on the senior tax exemption…maybe opinions have changed in the past 10 years.”

He also stated the he felt like the focus of the board has primarily been on extra-curricular activities, rather than academics, “It seems like over the past couple of years, since Dr. Brown has been the Superintendent, there’s been a focus and emphasis, and a considerable amount of funding towards extra curricular activities; specifically the brand new tennis courts, wrestling, and weight room, and of course now the ROTC center.”

Alhadeff added that he was a fan of sports and understood their significance, but was still concerned, “I know the gifted program has shifted, and I understand the changes that were made…with two young children in the school, I feel like it’s a disservice that the gifted program has now changed, for whatever reason.” Brown asserted that, “The senior tax exemption is a challenging proposition for everyone who pays taxes in Lumpkin County…that is not, in my opinion, for the school system to host a forum and to fight that battle. It’s the community. We have zero control over that”

The other points presented to the board included the elementary school that no longer has a teacher to lead the Science Club since the former teacher moved to Lumpkin County Middle School, and also the possible discontinuation of the Odyssey of the Mind program

Brown addressed Alhadeff‘s concern relative to an increased focus on extracurricular activities by stating, “I’ll make no apologies, because that is what was addressed in our SPLOST.” Brown also mentioned that the previous ESPLOST included academic improvements such as, technology, technological devices, and increased internet speeds.

In regards to JROTC/Science building, Brown explained that the project has not been approved as of yet, “We are in the planning stages. The Nugget inappropriately posted that it had been an approved project. We are still in the very preliminary stages of that facility, and we discussed last week what it was going to look like.” He further explained that the project will create new science classrooms and laboratories for the students to use. The space used for JROTC, Brown stated, would be determined based on what the state says they need, and also by what the program needs.

Concern over the absence of the board during their most recent public hearing in regards to the millage rate vote was not discussed.

 

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

School board’s decision to walk out on Monday’s public hearing was grossly irresponsible

Opinion

The Lumpkin County Board of Education’s decision to skip out on a public hearing last week was grossly irresponsible. It demonstrated a callous disregard for the citizens who voted them into office.  There is also a question of the legality of the meeting since a quorum was not present.

The hearing was conducted Monday, Aug. 13 and was advertised in the local newspaper as a public hearing on a tentative tax increase. Public hearings afford citizens the opportunity to speak on a particular issue and they have every right to expect their elected officials will listen.

School board members failed spectacularly to meet that expectation when they scurried into a backroom and allowed Superintendent Dr. Robert Brown to conduct the hearing in their absence.

Asked about the board’s refusal to listen to the citizens, Brown mistakenly stated, “The board is not required to be present. (Public hearings) are for the superintendent to receive comments from the public.”

Public hearings are informational. Their purpose is for citizens to become aware of what their elected officials are doing and for the elected officials to become aware of the public’s sentiment. That awareness is destroyed if elected officials refuse to listen to the people. It causes citizens to wonder if their trust in their representatives has been misplaced.

School board member Craig Poore took to Facebook over the weekend to blame the local media for disseminating “misleading information” and “ill-informed citizens” for not understanding the board’s actions.

In defending the board’s refusal to hear public comments last week, Poore said, “Monday during the hearing we were in executive session and had further business to attend to so we sent our representative to the meeting to report back to us.”

That excuse does not pass the smell test.

Every other school board in the state of Georgia is capable of holding an executive session and public hearing on the same night. They simply open the public hearing, listen to the citizens, close the hearing then go into executive session. It’s not that difficult.

Poore continues his Facebook rant by suggesting citizens,Come by the tire store and sit down with me let’s talk about the issues, or call me, email, or just stop me in Walmart. Hey that’s my job it’s not going to bother me.”

He also states: “What we need as a community is options to offset tax revenue loss.”

No, Mr. Poore, what we need is a school board whose members don’t run and hide from citizens who wish to speak to them at a public hearing.

Author

School board a no-show at public hearing

News

DAHLONEGA, Ga. – Public hearing or public embarrassment?

The Lumpkin County School Board advertised for a public hearing and invited citizens to speak about a tentative tax increase last Monday then declined to listen to a single word they had to say.

Four of the five board members were present when the work session started. Mera Turner was absent. But before the public hearing started, the four disappeared into a backroom and did not emerge until the public hearing ended.

Superintendent Dr. Robert Brown conducted the public hearing, despite the fact that a quorum was not present. Three speakers rose to be heard in a room absent of their elected officials

Questioned about the highly unusual situation Brown defended the board. “The board is not required to be present,” he said. (Public hearings) are for the superintendent to receive comments from the public.”

Some would argue that public hearings are for citizens to address their elected officials and for those officials to consider what the citizens have to say.

Dahlonega Mayor Sam Norton said, “It doesn’t make much sense for your elected officials not to be there for a public hearing. It defeats the purpose. The reason for you to have a public hearing is to gather public input. It’s an information opportunity not only for the public to be aware of what you’re doing but for you to be aware of public sentiment.”

In a Facebook posting Saturday, school board member Craig Poore said, “Just because I was not at one meeting does not mean that community input was not important to me. Monday during the hearing we were in executive session and had further business to attend to so we sent our representative to the meeting to report back to us.”

But that does not pass the smell test.

School boards, county commissions and city councils all across Georgia routinely hold public hearings on the same day as executive sessions. They simply open the public hearing, listen to citizens’ comments, close the public hearing then go into executive session. It is not that difficult. Monday’s public hearing lasted only about half an hour.

Poore continued his Facebook rant by inviting citizens to “Come by the tire store and sit down with me let’s talk about the issues, or call me, email, or just stop me in Walmart. Hey that’s my job it’s not going to bother me. I always appreciate people taking interest in our schools and children.”

One county official who asked not to be named said the meeting was not a legal meeting because no quorum was present when the public hearing was held. If he is right, any action taken at the meeting can be rescinded, and fines could be imposed on the board as well as the individual members.

The same official added, “I’ve seen these things done right and I’ve seen them done wrong. Sometimes they get called out on them but most of the time they just keep on moving and no one knows the difference. I don’t think that is right.”

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

 

 

 

 

Author

Lumpkin Co. School Superintendent: “My hope is I can come here and make a good thing a little better”

Business

DAHLONEGA, Ga — New Lumpkin County School Superintendent Dr. Robert Brown said he was attracted to his new job by the beauty of the mountains, the quaintness of small-town living and the fact that the school system has performed very well in recent years.

“My hope is that I can come here and make a good thing a little better,” he said Tuesday.

Brown was the unanimous choice of the School Board to replace Dr. Dewey Moye, who retired after 35 years of working in the school system, including 12 as superintendent.

Brown has served in public school education for 20 years. He holds a Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership from the University of Alabama, a Master’s in Educational Leadership from Jacksonville State University, a B.S. in Physical Education & Health from Carson-Newman College and a B.A. in Psychology from the same institution.

He has been a teacher, coach, assistant principal, principal and superintendent. His schools have been identified as some of the best in Georgia with recognition as a Governor’s Cup winner, Title 1 High Progress winner and a “Fab 4 District.”

Prior to coming to Lumpkin County, he served as superintendent of Jeff Davis County Schools from 2012 to 2016.

Brown says one thing he brings to his new job is a new set of eyes.

“I’ve had the benefit of working in different places and seeing how things are done a little differently,” he said. “Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees. So, I bring in a new perspective. The Board here was open to that because Mr. Moye had been here for such a long time and had done a really good job but sometimes you get stuck in the way things are going and you don’t look outside.”

Brown said one of the most attractive things about his new job was that the system didn’t need a major overhaul.

That does not mean there won’t be challenges, however.

Just before Brown was offered the position, a heavy-handed Obama Administration handed down guidelines stating that transgender students must be allowed to use the bathroom that is consistent with their gender identity, not necessarily the one on their birth certificate. This was accompanied by a threat to cut off federal funding if school systems did not comply.”

Asked about the guideline, Brown took a firm stand. “We won’t have girls going into boys’ bathrooms or boys going into the girls’ bathrooms,” he said. “They will use the bathroom of their own sex as designated on their birth certificate.”

Challenge number two came during his first week on the job when Lumpkin County High School’s head football coach resigned.

“Any time you have a head football coach resign in May, that’s a challenge,” he said. This past Monday, former Forsyth Central head coach Shane Williamson was hired.
The next big challenge will be replacing the school’s Finance Director who has accepted another position within the system.

Next comes the biggest challenge of all, managing the school system’s $30 million budget.

“The whole world of educational finance has become a struggle, especially for small districts,” Brown said. “When you’re looking at significant austerity cuts of a million dollars off what you would have earned by 1985 QBE standards, that’s a huge hit. You have to find ways to save money and be open to how you are doing things.”

Brown said he would have to get into the budget to really know where our money is going in Lumpkin County. “It’s going to be a continuing financial struggle. There is never a school board member or elected official that wants to raise taxes. My job is to make sure every tax dollar we do get is being spent wisely.”

Brown came up with some innovative ideas at Jeff Davis to save money. “One thing we did was stop outsourcing some things and we bring them back inside,” he said. “We outsourced custodials and saved about $250,000 there. We in-sourced our grounds maintenance which had been contracted out and saved some there. We just had a willingness to sit down and look at how we could provide the highest quality of service for our kids at the best value.”

Brown said he made very few recommendations about changes to the Lumpkin County system during the interview process. “The Board, I believe, was more interested in my thought processes than changes I might recommend,” he said.

“Besides, It wouldn’t be fair to the folks who have worked here so long and have so much invested in the system if I showed up on day one and said this is what we need to change without doing some homework and due diligence.”

Author

Lumpkin School Board Introduces New Superintendent

News

DAHLONEGA, Ga. — The Lumpkin County Board of Education met in regular session Monday and introduced the school system’s new superintendent — Dr. Robert Brown.

Brown replaces Dr. Dewey Moye who has retired after 35 years of working in the local school system, including 12 as superintendent.

Brown has an impressive background in education, serving as a middle school and high school teacher and coach, high school assistant and principal, executive director of high schools and superintendent of schools. Most recently, he served as superintendent of the Jeff Davis School System.

He holds a Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership from the University of Alabama, a Master’s in Educational Leadership from Jacksonville State University, a B.S. in Physical Education & Health from Carson-Newman College and a B.A. in Psychology from the same institution.

I spoke to Dr. Brown before the meeting and he made it crystal clear where he stands on the Obama Administration’s guidelines regarding the use of bathrooms and locker rooms by transgender students. Those guidelines state that transgender students be allowed to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.

But Brown said, “We won’t have girls going into boys’ bathrooms or boys going into the girls’ bathrooms,” he said. “They will use the bathroom of their own sex as designated on their birth certificate.”

But Brown added that schools would do their best to make all students comfortable in their own skin.

Caroline Stewart presented a review of the school system’s general fund balance sheet for the period ending April 30, 2016 which showed total assets of $8,933, 630.48, total liabilities of $3,599, 424.29 and a fund equity of $5,334, 206. 19. The year to date SPLOST collections are down from $1,284, 833 in 2015 to $1,248,832, a difference of $35,996.

The Board decided to wait until after the runoff election between Mera Turner and Catherine Ariemma to fill the vacant District 1 seat.

Author

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