to The Madison County Journal
|FRONT PAGE - AUGUST 25, 1999 - DANIELSVILLE, GA|
WORDS OF COMFORT
Teacher Elizabeth Maxwell
offers words of comfort to kindergartner Avel Delgado at Danielsville
Elementary School Friday morning, the first day of school in
School head sues county over building inspection
BY ZACH MITCHAM
Wiring problems at two mobile class units at Colbert Elementary School have sparked a legal dilemma between county school and government officials.
School superintendent Dennis Moore filed suit against the county government Friday, claiming that a county building inspector had no right to deny a permit for Jackson EMC to hook up electrical services to mobile classroom units at Colbert Elementary.
Building inspector L.C. Brown discovered improper connections in the electrical apparatus and wiring for the mobile classroom units. The school district, which had received approval from the State Fire Marshall to occupy those units, corrected the problems and Jackson EMC began providing power to the classrooms Friday.
But school board attorney Lane Fitzpatrick filed Moore's action against the county Friday, the complaint stating that the (county government), "through its building inspection department, claims to have authority over the school district's building and construction activities."
Judge John H. Bailey Jr. called for a hearing at 9 a.m., Oct. 5, in Madison County Superior Court for both sides to argue their cases. Bailey also issued a temporary restraining order for the county to cease any control over the school district in any of the system's building activities and construction.
Moore had no comment on the matter Tuesday, except to say that the issue is simply a "paperwork matter" for attorneys and that there's "no problem" between the government entities.
Commission chairman Wesley Nash echoed Moore's sentiment, saying the suit is an opportunity for the two government groups to clarify their responsibilities.
"This is nothing more than a case of a gray area in the law where a judge will make a decision as to where the responsibility lies on whether the county inspects school property or not," said Nash.
Fitzpatrick was in court in Watkinsville this week and unable to be reached for comment. County attorney John McArthur had no comment Tuesday about the matter.
BOC to discuss pay scale Mon.
The Madison County board of commissioners will meet Monday, Aug. 30, at 6 p.m. to discuss implementing a pay scale for county employees.
Government employees have long complained that the county's pay methods are unfair, and county leaders are working to put a fair system in place.
Commission chairman Wesley Nash told the BOC Monday that he has already begun putting together his recommended 2000 budget. He said the board must act quickly on a pay scale in order for it to take effect next year.
In other business Monday, the board:
·agreed to prohibit semi-trucks from parking in the parking lot next to Danielsville City Hall. Commissioner Melvin Drake said that nearby residents have complained that the trucks keep them up at night. Chairman Nash said he would like to declare the parking lot as surplus property and put it up for sale, noting that the lot is a "prime commercial spot." No action was taken on that suggestion, but Nash said he would bring it up at the board's next meeting.
·agreed to meet Monday, Oct. 4, at 6 p.m. to discuss proposed changes to the county's subdivision regulations. The board will also talk about storm water management guidelines.
·approved a bid from Marc Perry for $16,700 to install two power generators for the county 911 system.
·approved the annexation of approximately 16 acres belonging to Mike Hipp into the city of Colbert.
·appointed Gerald Blackwell and John T. Brantley to the library board.
·agreed to post 35-miles-per-hour signs on Colbert Grove Church Road near Mize Park.
·re-appointed Mary Jo Matthews to the Northeast Georgia Center Community Service Board.
·agreed to solicit bids from auction companies to auction off excess county equipment.
Three to seek BOE seat
Three people are seeking the vacant District 4 seat on the Madison County Board of Education.
They are: April Hitchcock Watson, Danielsville; Jim Patton, Comer; and Michael C. Sales, Danielsville.
The school board will appoint one of these candidates to fill the term of Beth Bolin, who recently resigned from the post. That seat will be up for election in November of next year.
The board of education will interview the three candidates for the position on Sept. 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the high school media center.
School system sued over attendance issue
BY ZACH MITCHAM
The Madison County school board faces a federal lawsuit for allegedly discriminating against a student based on his disabilities.
Linda Steele and her son, James "Michael" Steele, 17, have filed a $1.5 million suit against the board of education, claiming that Michael was illegally denied credit for courses he completed as a sophomore last year.
School officials won't comment about the matter until the case is concluded.
Michael, who suffers from learning disabilities attributed to a premature birth, was admitted to Madison County High School as a junior last week, but credit for his sophomore classes has yet to be restored, according to his attorney, Daryl Morton of Macon.
Though Michael did the work required for the classes, he exceeded the school system's allowed number of absences. Under the school system's attendance policy, a student may have no more than 10 absences - excused or unexcused - in a semester. Course credit is denied those with excessive absences, unless they attend Saturday Opportunity School or a summer school program to make up for time missed.
The Steeles contend that the school system's policy should include a provision granting waivers to students missing school due to their disabilities.
"(The county attendance policy) is legally deficient on its face," Morton wrote in the Steele's complaint.
Morton maintains that the county's attendance policy violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Though Michael has been admitted into the eleventh grade, the family will continue the action against the board. Apart from objecting to the attendance policy, the plaintiffs contend that school officials failed to follow the proper procedures for denying class credits to a student.
"By the time (Michael) was informed that he would not receive credit due to the application of Madison County's attendance policy, it was impossible for him to make up the time missed at either Saturday Opportunity School or by attending the summer school program," Morton wrote in the suit.
Linda Steele unsuccessfully appealed to the county school board earlier this year. An appeal to the state school board is pending.
According to the suit, Michael missed school for several reasons last year, including personal illness, illness in the family and depression brought on by the deaths of his grandmother and aunt.
County Journal - Danielsville, Georgia
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