Dougherty school board investigates arrest authorization emails

The school board meets to discuss issues surrounding the Dougherty County School Police.

An afternoon meeting with the Dougherty County School System's Safety and Security Committee got heated after the issue of illegal requests turned into a discussion about misused school funds.

The law does not allow the school board or the city or the county to interfere with the authority of a sworn peace officer to arrest somebody at their discretion for a crime, says Tommy Coleman, DCSS Attorney.

Coleman says he warned school board leaders months before the arrest authorization emails went out that they couldn't make that type of request, being that it's unlawful.

But the DCSS assistant superintendent says he can TMt recall that exchange.

I cannot remember a conversation. The only conversation I had was the correspondence after this latest offense, says Kenneth Goseer, DCSS Asst. Superintendent.

He says the emails were misinterpreted. They were only meant to keep the lines of communication open between school officials. But school board members say this situation makes them second guess their leaders.

It makes the school system look like they're totally inadequate, uninformed and incapable of making some decisions in some areas, says Carol Tharin, a school board member.

If those emails weren't enough to fuel the fire between board members and the superintendent's office, the misuse of school funds set the blaze.

The Safety and Security Committee brought up the issue that bail money was reimbursed to a family after a student was arrested on school premises for profanity.

If I were a parent and my child had been arrested and I had paid their bail and I found out that the school system had paid someone else's bail, I'd be sitting on the superintendent TMs doorstep wanting to be reimbursed, says Carol Tharin.

Tommy Coleman says that act is completely unlawful because school funds should only be used for educational purposes.

He says this is another example of school officials over stepping their bounds, but those who were aware of the exchange say the reimbursement had to happen in this case.

If you weighed the magnitude of this situation, I TMm sure the system would come out positive by going and doing that, says Kenneth Goseer.

School board members made a request that information be brought in to the May 7th meeting about the reimbursement. They want to know how many times it's happened, how much money has been paid out, who it's been paid to and how to get the money back.

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