In June 2018 the Echols County School Board sent to GAE member Dr. Lana Foster a notice of termination for allegedly co-mingling funds of the local Beta Club. The School Board alleged that Dr. Foster violated policy by taking family members with her to Orlando for the Beta National Convention in June 2017. Meanwhile, the School Board also sent a complaint to the Professional Standards Commission to investigate their allegations.
GAE’s network attorney carefully explained to the PSC that as Dr. Foster had been appointed as Georgia State Sponsor she was required to attend the event whether Echols County students participated or not. Had Dr. Foster not attended the Orlando convention, she could have jeopardized her good standing as a Georgia State Sponsor for the National Beta Club which, in turn, could have had a negative impact on Echols County’s Beta Club’s good standing. Further, Dr. Foster’s family members joined her as judges and chaperones for the Beta Convention. Dr. Foster had been following the Echols Requisitions policy, practice and procedure for many years as had every other faculty sponsor for a student organization: you fundraise the money or contribute it yourself; you place the money for your own (sponsor) expenditures along with your family members that are coming along (either as guests or chaperones) into the student organization account; then you complete a requisition form to obtain a check from the student account to the appropriate vendor (hotel, convention, amusement park/field trip location). Not only has Dr. Foster followed this, GAE’s network attorney provided the PSC with many examples of other faculty sponsors that followed this policy, practice and procedure. To its credit, the PSC voted at its June 2019 meeting “no probable cause” of an ethics violation and dismissed the case against Dr. Foster. “GAE fought for me!” said an elated Dr. Foster.
On the employment front, the Echols School Board has yet to hold Dr. Foster’s termination hearing. The case has been hard fought as GAE’s network attorney filed court papers to change the location of the hearing and requested an impartial tribunal to hear the case (due to concerns about alleged bias). These efforts were not successful. However, GAE is also in the process of obtaining electronic discovery from the cell phones (text messages) of the Echols County School Board members and the Superintendent, among others. As mentioned above, no other faculty member has been sanctioned for “co-mingling” as they have followed the policies, practices and procedures of Echols Schools system. All other faculty members are white. Dr. Foster alleges that she has been singled out due to her being an African American. We will keep you updated with developments.