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School lawsuit set for August
Roger Reese

A tentative trial date in the lawsuit filed by former Liberty County School System Chief Financial Officer Roger Reese is set for Aug. 17, according to public records in the Liberty County Clerk of courts office.

Reese is suing former LCSS Superintendent Dr. Valya Lee and the school system, claiming they violated the Georgia Whistleblower Act and are in breach of Reese’s employment contract.

The suit demands Reese be reinstated as the finance director with full salary, lost wages and benefits and that the record of his termination be expunged.

He claims his firing was retaliatory for opposing Lee during the request for proposals for new banking services for LCSS. He also claims he was underpaid.

Lee and school system attorney Phillip Hartley answered the allegations by saying Reese was terminated due to poor job performance. They also claim he gave himself a raise without board approval.

Lee has said the search for new banking services was handled as a request for proposal, not a seal bid process as claimed by Reese.

Since news broke about the potential suit in early February, Lee and the BoE have remained embroiled in several controversial issues.

Board member Marcus Scott IV, has accused Lee and BoE chairwoman Lily Baker of retaliating against him for siding with Reese on the banking matter.

School board members in turn has accused Scott of misuse of facilities and code of ethics violations.

More recently Baker said Scott cost the taxpayers $1,600 for failing to notify the BoE in time to cancel his reservations for an out of town conference he didn’t attend.

The Georgia Professional Standards Commission said the investigation against Scott remains open.

Complaints also were submitted to AdvancED which was reviewing the system for accreditation.

AdvancED is now investigating the claims and representatives are set to visit the school system in the first quarter of the new school year.

The BoE voted to not renew Lee’s contract effective June 30.  She left May 31 in order to help make the transition to a new superintendent  easier, according to a letter she sent to Baker.

Lee declined to talk to a Courier reporter.

She is to receive a $190,000 payout.

Testimony during the April 11 tribunal on Reese alleged millions of dollars were misallocated and the system’s bookkeeping records are in disarray.

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