The Columbia County Board of Education on Tuesday tentatively approved a policy revision regarding the suspension or termination of auxiliary employees.
The change would give an at-will employee who had been terminated or suspended by the school superintendent the opportunity to appeal the superintendent's recommendation to the school board.
This revision resulted from the settlement of a 2005 discrimination lawsuit that was filed against the school system by four school bus drivers.
"We want to satisfy our settlement agreement," said board member Wayne Bridges.
Under the proposed policy revision, the school board chairperson would review the process and decide if the entire board should hear the appeal. However, some board members felt that an at-will employee whose employment had been terminated should have the opportunity to have a hearing before the entire board. Board members agreed to discuss this point further before making a final decision.
Superintendent Charles Nagle said there likely would be fewer than five instances a year that could merit a hearing.
"Most terminations that we have are so clear-cut," he said.
According to the proposed revision, a hearing would be granted only if the employee requested it.
"If we're only talking a couple a year, why wouldn't you let employees have their say?" said board member Mike Sleeper.
In other business, the board is moving forward in its search for legal services.
The board agreed on the terms for its request for proposals, but a search committee still must establish a time line to send out and receive the proposals.
The committee is made up of Sleeper, Bridges, Nagle and Tommy Price, the recently retired superintendent who now is working part-time for the school system.
Attorney Bill Fleming, who has a solo practice, represents the board; however, school board members have expressed a desire to seek representation from a law firm with several attorneys who have expertise in a variety of areas.
Board members also have said at previous meetings that they hope to name their legal counsel, who is awarded an annual contract, at their reorganization meeting in January.
The board also agreed to transfer $4.2 million in general funds to the building fund for the stadium, lights and track at the new high school under construction on Chamblin Road.
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