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Long BoE recognizes teachers, retirees
Superintendent addresses how special ed students are treated
Robert Waters Long super
Superintendent Dr. Robert Waters talked about a federal report critical of how some Georgia schools treat special education students. - photo by File photo

The Long County Board of Education recognized its retiring employees and teachers of the year.

Superintendent Dr. Robert Waters presented Teachers of the Year plaques to Brian Thomas for teaching and coaching at Long County High School, Dennis Pattison for teaching and coaching at Long County Middle School, Donna Sertich for teaching at Walker Elementary School and Barbara Pelton for teaching at Smiley Elementary School. Also recognized were retiring employees Wanda Futch for 17 years
of service as a food-service worker at LCHS,

Mitch Nobles for five years of service as a teacher and coach at LCHS and Suzanne Eason for five years of service at LCMS.
Waters also told the board during its Aug. 10 meeting that the subject of the Whole Board Training would be the Governance Team Self-Assessment.

He said the training was required for the Governance Team Recognition.

After the meeting, Waters also addressed a recent report by the U.S. Department of Justice in regards to the Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support, commonly known as GNETS.

In the report, the Justice Department is critical of the state for how it is providing care to students with behavioral problems and mental-health conditions. One portion of the report alleges that GNETS is illegally and unnecessarily segregating students with these issues. The report also lists alternatives for the school districts that are, in the DOJ’s opinion, less restrictive and discriminatory.

Waters was asked about this subject because the Coastal Academy GNETS in Brunswick provides services to several school districts, including Bryan, Liberty and Long counties.

Waters stated that the Coastal Academy and First District Regional Education Service Agency, the fiscal agent for Coastal Academy, along with the Long County School System, disagrees with the DOJ’s findings about the GNETS programs.

He said all three of these organizations do not believe that the report reflects the services actually being provided to the students, nor does it reflect the information that was shared with the Justice Department about the program by state and GNETS officials.  

“The Long County School District considers the services provided by Coastal Academy GNETS program a vital part of their curriculum of services for their students,” Waters said. “The report does not reflect the many individual needs considered in making decisions for GNETS students as well as the countless success stories that have resulted from participation in the program.”

The report did not specifically mention the Coastal Academy GNETS, though it did single other GNETS locations in other parts of the state for examples of what it said was segregation and discrimination against students with behavioral problems.

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