DOCO principal suspended without pay

Gloria Baker accused of falsifying information. / Jessica Fairley

An elementary school principal is facing a stiff penalty after being accused of falsifying federal documents.

Public records show Morningside Elementary School principal Gloria Baker collects more than $90,000 a year for her position, yet she's still being accused of altering information so her child could receive free school lunches.

Dougherty County school officials gathered on Wednesday to make sure Baker is held accountable for her mistake.

"This is the most difficult decision we've had to make sense I've been on the board," said Dougherty County Board of Education District 6 Representative Darrel Ealum.

After over an hour in executive session, it took officials a matter of minutes to release their decision: a 15 day suspension without pay.

Superintendent Dr. Joshua Murfree thinks the punishment is fair.

"I proposed the measure. She served almost 32 years in the Dougherty County School System. She is a great educator," said Dougherty County School System Superintendant Dr. Joshua Murfree.

But not everyone agrees with that decision.

"I expressed my feelings in executive session. It wasn't exactly the decision I would have made but I can assure you that I stand behind the decision," said Ealum.

Matters discussed behind closed doors are not being released to the public but Dr. Murfree says they're moving forward.

Authorities aren't looking into the free lunch program nor will there be any kind of audit as of right now, but there may be some inquiries in the future.

"We talked about a plan last week and this week. We're looking at it across the board but we're going to have a plan that's going to be presented to the board," said Dr. Murfree.

He says the goal is to reclassify the free lunch program and make sure those in need are being served.

While Baker is on suspension, the assistant principal for Morningside Elementary will take charge of her duties.