An email provided to AllOnGeorgia shows that the Evans County Board of Education altered the duties of its district office employees the same day an Open Records Request seeking sensitive information was addressed by Superintendent Dr. Martin Waters. The email reassigns duties to district office employees and shows a direct contradiction to the information provided to AllOnGeorgia and to the Attorney General’s office.
The email dated Sunday July 1, 2018, shows that Superintendent Dr. Martin Waters sent an email to district office staff and Board members just one hour after sending the response to AllOnGeorgia for an Open Records Request. The request shows Amy Rogers, his secretary holding an HR position/duty in addition to Public Relations. The assignment of the duty contradicts statements made on camera and to the office that Karen Bland, the second-highest paid employee in the office, was the only person handling HR matters.Waters Email to district office staff 07.01.18 (1)
The email also indicates that some Board members do not use Evans County School System email accounts and instead use work-based or personal accounts to conduct county business.
The email reassigns duties to employees of the district office following the resignation of Sharon Threatte, which occurred on June 27, meaning the July 1 email from Waters was sent four days after the resignation was submitted but was actually drafted and sent while the Board Office was closed for business for a week.
The Board of Education office was closed beginning Monday, July 2, 2018 and did not reopen until Monday, July 9, 2018. In the days leading up to the Open Records Request and the two weeks following, Superintendent Marty Waters was out of the office on vacation. (Waters confirmed on camera during the July 17 meeting that the office was, in fact, closed during the week of the 4th of July holiday).
Hallman told the AG in a letter dated July 13 that only Bland was handling personnel information to ‘avoid conflict among employees,’ but Waters email from July 1 says Amy Rogers holds HR duties as well. Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Colangelo, in working to settle the complaint filed against the BOE by AllOnGeorgia, asked Hallman if the lowest paid employees qualified to conduct the business for the ORR were being utilized. Hallman responded that they were the lowest paid employees qualified to do the work.
Paperwork sent to Sharon Threatte after the most recent Board meeting says otherwise.
Threatte received her separation notice from the Board of Education office on July 19, just two days after the regular Board meeting where members met for roughly an hour discussing personnel matters and litigation.
The separation agreement shows yet another employee other than Karen Bland handling and signing HR documents for personnel related matters. Stacey Dees signed the document on July 19, well after the assignment of duties changes on July 1.
Stacey Dees title as “HR Assistant” was not noted in the Waters email on July 1. In fact, the email read
“Stacey Dees – Administrative Assistant, Business Services – Accounts Payable (including SNP) –
Move to Amy Ray’s current office.”
The combined documentation shows that at least two employees, paid substantially less than Karen Bland, handle HR documents on a regular basis. Additionally, if the duties were assigned Rogers and then transferred to Dees between July 1 and July 19, a lower paid person would still be capable of fulfilling the request.
TIMELINE OF EVENTS
Tuesday, June 26 – Sharon Threatte is notified that she is the only employee in the district office who will be receiving a pay cut for the upcoming school year despite her increase in assigned duties.
Wednesday, June 27 – Sharon Threatte submits her resignation letter to the Evans County Board of Education. Her resignation letter details the working environment and her reason for leaving.
Thursday, June 28 – AllOnGeorgia files an Open Records Request with the BOE requesting Threatte’s personnel file, the emails related to her pay classification change, and the salaries of other employees in the district office.
Sunday July 1 at 2:44 P.M. – Waters sends a response to AllOnGeorgia citing $11,000 in fees for public records, citing two of the top paid employees as the only qualified persons who can access the records because no one else handles payroll and/or HR. He claims that the request will take four months to fulfill. Waters was technically on vacation when both emails were sent.
Sunday, July 1, at 3:43 P.M. – Waters sends an email to district office employees and Board of Education members assigning duties, effective July 9, 2018.
Monday, July 2 – AllOnGeorgia files a complaint with the Georgia Attorney General’s office citing excessive fees and an extravagant timeline for fulfillment.
Monday, July 2 — Sunday July 8 — Evans Board of Education Office is closed to the public, most employees are on vacation due to the 4th of July holiday.
Thursday, July 5 — Georgia Attorney General sends letter to Evans BOE seeking justification and explanation for fees and timeline.
Monday, July 9 – Employees return to office, Waters remains on vacation through July 16, 2018.
Friday, July 13 – Attorney Ron Hallman replies to the Attorney General complaint, affirming Waters’ statements and claiming Karen Bland is the only person qualified to handle personnel details.
Tuesday, July 17 – Evans County BOE holds two hour meeting with an additional one hour executive session meeting.
**If the Board voted to accept the resignation of Threatte, they made no mention of it upon returning from Executive Session. They did not announce any personnel decisions upon returning to regular session.
Thursday, July 19 – Threatte receives official notice of separation from the Evans BOE. The notice is signed by Stacey Dees and has her handwriting indicating she’s the HR Director/HR Assistant with the date of July 18, 2018. It’s official HR documentation from the Evans BOE.