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Appealing educators dealt blow

Arthur Anderson and Elizabeth Heinlen, former Grady County school administrators appealing the non-renewal of their employment contracts, were dealt a blow this week.
According to officials with the Georgia Department of Education (GDOE), the Albany attorney representing the two veteran local educators failed to make a timely request for oral arguments before the state board of education’s hearing officer.
In a letter dated June 18, Patricia L. Mills, a GDOE senior policy analyst, wrote to Albany attorney Howard J. Stiller notifying him that his June 16th request for oral arguments was made after the deadline to make such a request.
“Mr. Stiller also failed to submit his brief in the Anderson case to me on time,” School Board Attorney Thomas L. Lehman said Tuesday.
According to Lehman, Stiller submitted his brief in both the Heinlen and Anderson case to the state in the same envelope. However, Lehman did not receive his copy of the Anderson brief until contacting the state.
“I was prepared to request a motion to dismiss,” Lehman added.
Lehman has since received the brief and requested an additional three days in which to review it before submitting his brief to the GDOE.
“I have until Friday, but I may send it sooner,” Lehman said this week.
The school board attorney did not desire to have oral arguments in either appeal unless the opposing counsel requested it. Since Stiller missed the deadlines Lehman will not seek to have oral arguments and the cases will now be decided by attorney L.O. Buckland, who is the state board’s hearing officer.
Lehman has appeared before Buckland previously in regards to the termination of former school superintendent Michael Hickerson.
According to GDOE records, Stiller had until May 16 in which to request oral arguments in the Heinlen appeal and May 24 in the Anderson appeal. He did not make the request in either until June 16, and state officials did not receive the request until June 18.
Elizabeth Heinlen, an employee of the Grady County school system since 1977, was most recently serving as an assistant principal at Washington Middle School. The Grady County Board of Education voted earlier this year to impose a reduction in force because of the lack of state funding and other budget related issues. Included in the reduction in force was the elimination of two assistant principalships, one at Cairo High School and the second being Ms. Heinlen’s post at WMS.
Anderson, on the other hand, was non-renewed based on unsatisfactory job performance. The former WMS principal served as the middle school leader since July 2001 and has been an employee of the local school district since 1972.
“I would hope to have a decision in the Heinlen appeal sometime in July and in the Anderson case in August at the earliest,” Lehman said.
Should the state board uphold the decision of the local school board, the duo could appeal to Grady Superior Court.

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