Defining the job: What are school crossing guards paid to do?
If you're a parent of a child in the school system, you rely on crossing guards to keep your kids safe.
The Dougherty County School System has received complaints about them and there seems to be some confusion as to what they're hired to do.
FOX 31 received a complaint from someone about it being dangerous near one school with heavy traffic. This led FOX 31 to look deeper into the role of a crossing guard in the school system and found out more about what they're paid to do.
Mary Alice Jones sits in her car often while waiting for the bell to ring at Lake Park Elementary.
"They say we can sit in the car until the kids start coming," Jones said.
That's what Jones was told when she took the part-time job as a crossing guard a year and a half ago.
DCSS says since January, they've received a couple of complaints. The most recent is against the guards at Lake Park.
"Well, I'm not going to worry about it because I'm trying to do my job, trying to do what I'm supposed to do," Jones said.
DCSS Police Chief Troy Conley hires the guards and says he tells each guard what he expects from them.
"They are required to exit their vehicles upon the students approaching the crosswalk area and they are expected to make sure the kids make it across the road way safely," Conley said.
Conley has been the DCSS police chief since 2005. He says he's only had to fire two guards in the past nine years.
"One was because of a verbal altercation with a driver at a crossing intersection," Conley said. "Once we investigated it, it warranted his dismissal, and I did have an elderly woman who got to the point where she was no longer capable of working in that capacity."
Most of the guards are retired, over the age of 60 and they worked previously in the school system.
The crossing guards were inherited from the city, so there's currently no formal job description for a crossing guard.
"That may be an oversight with our system," Conley said. "That's something that I most definitely need to check into. Initially, we were not employing the crossing guards."
The school system received complaints about guards sitting in their vehicles too much and since there's no formal job description, it begged the question if they can be fired since it's not in writing. DCSS attorney Tommy Coleman says yes. They are at-will employees and not under contract.
Another complaint Conley received was about the guard at Sherwood Acres Elementary School.
"He took it upon himself to try to help alleviate or assist with the traffic flow and I received a complaint from one parent that was extremely upset about it," Conley said.
So, the guard was told to stop directing traffic. After that, there were even more complaints because traffic was so congested. That man, Charles Zackery, is now working in a much busier area on Oglethorpe Boulevard.
"It can be dangerous depending on the traffic and sometimes we do get people that don't want to stop and we just have to get out of the way you know," Zackery said.
Zackery says he will sit in his car sometimes but that he always does his job to keep the kids safe.
There are crossing guards posted in close range to all elementary and middle schools in the county. Some have more than one, depending on traffic.