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BoE may make retention decisions appealable
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The Liberty County BoE recognizes the Panther football team for winning the Commissioners Cup last month. Front row, from left: School Superintendent Dr. Valya Lee, LCHS head football coach Kirk Warner, Liberty County Commission Chairman Donald Lovette and BoE Chairman Lily Baker. In back are Commissioner Gary Gilliard and Ted Harris, who worked to re-establish the trophy. - photo by Photo by Denise Etheridge

The Liberty County Board of Education unanimously approved the first reading of an amended promotion-and-retention policy for students.
The policy basically would stay the same, except for one change, Assistant Superintendent for Student Services Mary Alexander said. The revision would allow promotion-and-retention decisions to be appealed to Superintendent Dr. Valya Lee on a case-by-case basis. Previously, appeals could not be made beyond the school level and were considered final.
The policy states, “Promotion, grade-level advancement and course credit shall be based on academic achievement and demonstrated proficiency of the subject matter of the course or grade level. No student shall be administratively promoted to a grade level for which he or she is not prepared without appropriate intervention measures.”
The school board also approved the superintendent’s evaluation instrument. Board members will use the method to evaluate Lee’s job performance. The superintendent’s evaluation instrument is the final step the school board must take to meet requirements for the Georgia School Boards Association quality board recognition program, Board of Education Chairwoman Lily Baker said.
The superintendent’s evaluation is based on achieving four goals. Lee is tasked with improving the academic achievement of students in Liberty County schools, engaging fiscal responsibility and effective resource stewardship, providing a safe and secure environment for students and employees, and engaging parents and other community stakeholders, according to the board-approved evaluation document.
Lee told board members she has been working toward these goals. Teachers have received a new lesson-delivery format, she said, and they will be working on “thinking maps” to help students better understand content and promote literacy.
The superintendent also lauded Bradwell Institute Principal Scott Carrier and his staff for implementing a new program in which students are offered after-school support “for credit recovery” three days a week.
Lee said Alexander is working with front-office staff on security and safety procedures for avoiding and responding to various disasters, citing the August incident of a gunman who entered a Dekalb County school. The gunman, Ronald El McNair, had entered Discovery Learning Academy and was “talked down” by school staff member Antoinette Tuff, who was in the school’s front office at the time, according to recent news reports. No one was injured in that incident.
Lee told the board she also has engaged the district’s “stakeholders” — local government, business and community leaders — by speaking at various community and church events.
The superintendent announced the system will host a community forum on Oct. 22 at the Liberty County Schools Performing Arts Center.
In other school-board business:
• Alexander informed school-board members that this year’s enrollment is up by 202 students over last year’s end-of-school year figure. “On Aug. 30, our preliminary attendance was 10,134 students,” Alexander said. “Last year, our ending enrollment was 9,932.”
• Alexander also updated the school board on the Ombudsman and S.T.A.R. programs. The Ombudsman program is an alternative school for students with behavioral problems who might otherwise drop out. S.T.A.R., which stands for Student Transition and Recovery Programs, is a company that licenses, implements and maintains a disciplinary program for schools and juvenile courts, according to For the month of August, a total of 88 middle- and high-school students were placed in the Ombudsman program. Twenty-two students from Lewis Frasier, Snelson-Golden and Midway middle schools were placed in the program, and 66 students from Liberty County High School and Bradwell Institute were placed in Ombudsman. There are 28 seats still available in the Ombudsman program for middle-school students and 54 seats open for high-school students, Alexander said. The assistant superintendent said 38 students were served by the S.T.A.R. program in August.
• School-board members approved a number of personnel actions following a closed session Tuesday. John Lyles’ interim position as assistant superintendent for operations was made permanent. Two teaching positions were added, along with an assistant director for human resources, a JROTC instructor, a paraprofessional and a cook. A guidance paraprofessional and cook resigned, and two school nutrition managers and two paraprofessionals were transferred.

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