A lawsuit filed by former Liberty County School System Chief Financial Officer Roger Reese against former LCSS Superintendent Dr. Valya Lee and the Board of Education has been continued again.
In August, Reese’s attorney, Matthew Billips, told Superior Court Judge Paul Rose that all parties were in discovery. Rose moved the case to the next term, which started in January.
On Jan. 5, a consent motion was filed extending the date to complete discovery by April 2. A new deadline of May 2 was also set for additional motions. Rose signed the motion Jan. 22.
Reese is suing the former
LCSS superintendent and the system, claiming they violated the Georgia Whistleblower Act and breached his contract.
The suit, filed April 11, seeks Reese’s reinstatement with full salary, lost wages and benefits, and asks that record of his termination be expunged.
He claims his firing was retaliatory for opposing Lee during the district’s search for a new bank. He also claims he was underpaid.
Lee and school attorney Phillip Hartley responded that Reese was terminated due to poor job performance. They also claim he gave himself a raise without approval.
The controversy shed light on allegations of board impropriety, in-fighting and retaliations. Board member Marcus Scott IV accused Lee and BoE chairwoman Lily Baker of retaliating against him for siding with Reese. In turn, other board members accused Scott of misuse of facilities and ethics violations.
The Georgia Professional Standards Commission received the complaints about Scott and opened an investigation. Per the GPSC Ethics Committee, Scott’s investigation is pending.
During Reese’s tribunal, which was the same day he filed the suit, it was alleged that millions of dollars were misallocated and the system’s bookkeeping records in disarray.
In the midst of the scandal, the BoE voted to not renew Lee’s contract. She received a $190,000 payout.
Complaints also were submitted to AdvancED, which reviews school accreditations. AdvancED visited the district Jan. 29-31, and met with each board member.
According to LCSS Superintendent Dr. Franklin Perry, recommendations from AdvancED should be forthcoming.
During a Jan. 23, board meeting friction between board members was obvious.
BoE member Carolyn Smith-Carter noted that she’s been on the board five years and continues to be the victim of or witness to what she termed “bullying” by fellow board members.
She mentioned a rift between herself and BoE member Verdell Jones.
Jones said the behavior of the board does not benefit anyone and hurts students.
At a Feb. 13 meeting an action about training, brought forth another disagreement. Baker presented information about the Governance Team Assessment training by the Georgia School Board Association.
Baker said the team is comprised of the superintendent and the board. She added the previous self-assessment was done incorrectly.
“We did not have a superintendent,” she said. “So the governance team assessment we did was not done correctly. And that is why I know we need training.”
Carter said the superintendent evaluation training book provides guidelines outlining the self-assessments. She said correct procedures were followed by board members, but the chairwoman failed to follow proper procedures.
Baker said she checked with the GSBA and it agreed the whole board needed the training.
Perry said it was obvious problems still exist within the board. He said the problems need to be remedied for the benefit of students.