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PSC remands complaint against superintendent to Decatur School Board

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PSC remands complaint against superintendent to Decatur School Board

City Schools of Decatur Superintendent David Dude. Image obtained from City Schools of Decatur
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Decatur, GA — The Decatur School Board will be tasked with investigating the merits of a complaint filed against Superintendent David Dude.

The Georgia Professional Standards Commission, which certifies educators, on April 8 voted to remand that complaint to the Decatur School Board, which has said it plans to investigate allegations that Superintendent Dude was frequently absent but did not record his absences as vacations. Public records show Dude received $100,000 in additional compensation for cashing out the vacation days he said he didn’t use. While the exact details of the PSC complaint are not known, it is believed to be connected to the allegations about Dude’s use of vacation days.

The School Board on March 12 made the announcement that it would be rescinding Dude’s contract and the board would be hiring an independent investigator.

Nearly a month later, the board has taken no public action regarding the investigation and hasn’t named an investigator. The board also has not placed Dude on administrative leave pending the outcome of that investigation. Likewise, the board will not answer questions about whether it will complete that investigation before awarding Dude a new contract. The previous contract, which the board rescinded, made it harder and more expensive for the board to fire Dude.

City Schools of Decatur is on spring break this week. Messages to the district and superintendent were not immediately returned.

Paul Shaw, director of the PSC’s Ethics Division, said it will be up to the School Board to determine if a violation occurred. If the School Board believes a violation occurred, the School Board would report that to the PSC which would then investigate. He said he would “hope” the School Board would provide some response about its findings within 60 days.

City Schools of Decatur faces five federal lawsuits, all filed under Dude’s watch. The most recent lawsuit alleges Dude violated state statutes and ethics rules by improperly reporting his vacation time. City Schools of Decatur’s former human resources director David Adams filed the lawsuit in January, alleging Dude took more vacations than his contract allowed and retaliated against employees who raised questions about it.

The contract that the board rescinded was approved in September 2020. At the time the School Board approved the now-rescinded contract, Dude’s PSC certification had lapsed because it had expired in June. Dude didn’t renew it until October. Dude’s contract makes it clear that maintaining this certification is a condition of Dude’s employment with the district.

City Schools of Decatur said the COVID-19 pandemic was the reason Dude’s certification lapsed.

“Due to COVID, several reporting periods were canceled, so some of the paperwork for Dr. Dude and other employees was submitted in October instead of July. We strive to keep all employees’ certifications current, but there are times when things like this happen and the PSC works with us to ensure our employees’ certifications and renewals are complete,” spokesperson Courtney Burnett said.

However, PSC did not cancel any reporting periods.

Kelli Young, who works in PSC’s certification division, said, “Renewal for employed educators is one of the most streamlined processes we have implemented but individuals must also meet requirements such as background checks, which closures due to the pandemic hindered.”

Young said she believed Burnett was referring to reporting periods for the Georgia Department of Education.

Burnett later clarified, saying, “The GaDOE canceled the July Certified Personnel Information Report or CPI because of COVID. This report flags errors of any out-of-field or expired certificates. The October CPI report flagged 10 expired certifications, including Dr. Dude’s, out of over 100 certifications processed last year. The Staff Support Department worked with the employees and the PSC to get all 10 certificates up to date with the PSC before submitting the final CPI report to the GaDOE.”

Burnett did not respond to a question about who the other nine employees were with expired certifications. But records provided by the district show that Dude was notified via email in April 2020 that his certification was about to expire.

“Although we are under COVID-19 shelter in place in restrictions, GaPSC recommends that we continue to process renewal applications,” an April 22, 2020 email from a district HR employee to Dude says. “Under their guidance, we will complete criminal backgrounds when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and resume business as normal.”

The email said the paperwork needed to be completed and returned to Staff Support Director Adena Walker by May 15, 2020.

Dude acknowledged the email the next day, April 23, 2020, saying he was having a technical issue filling out his renewal form. The HR department said it would look into it.

Decaturish has asked the school district if there are any additional emails pertaining to Dude’s certification renewal and the district says it would look to see if those emails exist.

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