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Anderson loses appeal to state board

The State Board of Education concurred with the Grady County Board of Education’s decision not to renew the employment contract with ex-Washington Middle School principal Arthur Anderson on the grounds of incompetency.
The state board met last Thursday and reviewed Anderson’s appeal. In the appeal, Anderson’s attorney, Howard J. Stiller of Albany, claimed that the Grady County Board’s decision not to renew his contract on the grounds of incompetency was not supported by evidence, and that it also violated the federal Age Discrimination Employment Act.
The state board in its finding determined that it does not have jurisdiction in age discrimination claims.
However, the state board determined there was direct evidence of WMS being a “needs improvement” school and that Anderson attempted to “thwart efforts to improve the performance of the students enrolled in the special education program.”
The state board also found that there was direct evidence of Anderson not being able to schedule his personnel to attend required meetings and failing to communicate with central office personnel on a timely basis.
William Bradley Bryant, vice chairman for appeals, concluded, “The State Board of Education, therefore, concludes that there was evidence from which the Local Board could conclude that Appellant (Anderson) was incompetent.”
As for the claim that the contract was not renewed for “other good and sufficient cause” because of declining enrollment, the state board ruled there was no evidence to support Superintendent Dr. Tommy Pharis’ opinion that declining enrollment at the school was because of a leadership problem and not some other factors, such as county growth patterns, according to Vice Chairman Bryant.
However, the evidence of incompetency was sufficient, according to the state board, to sustain the decision of the local board.
Anderson’s last appeal must be made to Grady County Superior Court, if he so chooses.
“Based upon the documentation we collected, we believed the state board would uphold the decision of our board. I’m not surprised by this action, it was just a matter of going through the process,” Superintendent Pharis said.
The state board previously upheld the Grady County Board of Education’s decision not to renew the contract of ex-WMS assistant principal Elizabeth Heinlen.
Anderson was an employee of the local school system since 1972 and served as the WMS principal since July 2001.

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