Jody Grooms, the former head coach of Wayne County High School’s football team, and his wife, Sharon Grooms, a former teacher at Arthur Williams Middle School, were arrested Tuesday and charged with theft by taking, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
GBI Special Agent in Charge Stacy Carson said Jody Grooms, 47, and Sharon Grooms, 35, turned themselves in to the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, where the couple were booked and later released on bond.
Carson said Jody Grooms faces one count of theft by taking for a fundraiser in which he was involved.
Sharon Grooms faces three counts of theft by taking for unaccounted money involving the Yellow Jackets cheerleading team, Carson said.
Wayne County School System Superintendent Dr. James Brinson said Tuesday that both Jody and Sharon Grooms resigned from their positions last week.
The investigation began when parents of cheerleaders complained about fundraising money being unaccounted for, Carson said.
A statement the school system released on behalf of Board of Education Chairman Nick Ellis said concerns about “misappropriation of funds” were raised “several months ago.”
“We were not able to meet the threshold of proof required to proceed with the process of dismissing these employees under the Fair Dismissal Act,” the statement reads. “We have constantly conferred with our board attorneys over the last several months on the issues and taken their guidance.”
The statement adds that the system made the state auditor aware of the issues when the district’s annual audit was conducted.
The school system learned May 3 that several complaints had been filed with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office and that the GBI was brought in to investigate “due to conflicts,” the statement reads.
“We will continue to cooperate fully with the authorities as we have over the last couple of weeks,” the statement says. “Since these individuals charged no longer work for the school system, this is a legal matter. We will simply satisfy the reporting requirements and let the legal system take its course.”
The statement says that if it is proven that funds were indeed taken from the district, “We will take the necessary steps through our risk management services to seek restitution.”
“This is a very unfortunate and unacceptable situation, and we will take steps to further strengthen our processes and procedures to ensure this type of thing does not happen in the future,” the statement reads.
Jody Grooms compiled a 30-21-2 record at Wayne County in six seasons. He was a source of controversy at his last school, Lakeside High School in Evans, according to the Augusta Chronicle.
When Grooms was hired by Wayne County in February 2010, The Chronicle reported that he ran an illegal play in 2007 and was stripped of his athletic director title as punishment. Grooms was 20-12 in three seasons at Lakeside.
He was football coach and athletic director at Wayne County.
Coastal Courier staff contributed to this report.