Columbia County school officials on Friday announced the demotion of Riverside Elementary School Principal Jeannie Hill and a reprimand for Brookwood Elementary School Assistant Principal Barbara Gleitsmann after an investigation into allegations that the administrators failed to properly notify authorities of students' reports that they had been touched improperly by a substitute teacher.
The School Board at their regular meeting earlier in the week had delayed action in the case, with Superintendent Tommy Price saying the issue was "still a pending personnel matter." Price released a two-page statement Friday morning detailing the investigation and the sanctions levied against the two administrators, whose names were not listed in the statement.
Hill will be "demoted and involuntarily transferred" from principal to assistant principal, the statement says, and her salary will be frozen for two years. Gleitsmann has been reprimanded by her principal, and her case will be reviewed by Price, the statement says.
The administrators are accused of violating school board policy and state law by not immediately reporting alleged incidents of inappropriate touching by substitute teacher William Cleveland, 67, of Augusta.
At least six girls from Riverside and Brookwood elementary schools have accused Mr. Cleveland of groping them. All the alleged incidents occurred in May. They were not reported to police until June 13 by Hill.
The statement from Price also says the state's licensing board for educators is being notified so that the agency can determine if the incident violates the Code of Ethics for Educators.
Also at Tuesday's board meeting:
- The board was given a completion date of Monday for the new River Ridge Elementary School. Officials said minor work might still have to be done, but the school would be ready when classes begin Aug. 3. "We don't have any options," Price said. "When Aug. 3 comes around, we'll have 500 kids ready."
- A millage rollback hearing was held earlier Tuesday morning, but the issue was not discussed in the evening meeting.
Although the millage rollback was included as an item on the board's agenda, Chairwoman Regina Buccafusco asked if anyone in the audience was there for the hearing. When no one responded, the board skipped the item.
Because the board gave the public the opportunity to comment on the millage, they met their legal requirement, board attorney Bill Fleming said.
The school system's current millage is 17.18 percent. If the board rolled back the millage to keep in line with the increase in property assessments, the system would face a $2.3 million budget deficit, Controller Pat Sullivan said.
By keeping the millage where it is, the system will receive an additional $1.4 million in property taxes, she said.
Even with the extra taxes, the system is still facing a $900,000 budget deficit, Sullivan said.
Another public hearing will be held at 7:30 a.m. July 19 at the Evans High School auditorium. The board might set the millage at that time.
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