• DeKalb School Administrators Suspended

    DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Channel 2 Action News has learned that two DeKalb County school administrators are facing 10 days without their state licenses because of a book-selling scheme first uncovered by Channel 2.

    The school system told Channel 2's Richard Belcher that the case prompted some policy changes intended to head off similar incidents in the future.

    Interim superintendent Ramona Tyson ordered an investigation when Channel 2 first uncovered the deal.

    Dr. Ralph Simpson and Dr. Carol Thedford were eventually demoted and transferred by the school system.

    Then, they had to cut a deal with state authorities.

    On Wednesday, Channel 2 went looking for the principal whose book-buying started it all.

    Belcher went to Thedford's Conyers home in hopes of talking to her about the new developments. But she was in no mood.

    In fact, she called the police and didn't even come to the door for the officer who answered the call.

    It's been a rough 14 months for the former Miller Grove principal and Simpson, her predecessor at Miller Grove, who was to later become an area superintendent in the DeKalb System.

    Both were demoted and transferred and are now on 10 days suspension of their state licenses because Channel 2 discovered and state investigators confirmed that Thedford used $9,600 in school funds to buy 600 copies of a motivational book written by Simpson.

    When a whistle-blower tipped Channel 2 about the book purchases at Miller Grove, the school system didn't even have a policy that forbids school employees selling to the system. That has changed.

    "All employees have been notified that they cannot use public funds for these kinds of transactions to sell goods or services," said Jeff Dickerson, DeKalb County Schools spokesman.

    The state also confirmed another one of Channel 2's findings -- Thedford intentionally split up the book purchases so the invoice amounts wouldn't attract attention. It was a clear effort to beat the system.

    "The, uh, system hasn't had an internal auditor. And now it has an internal auditor independent of the finance department who is on the lookout for just these kinds of things," said Dickerson.

    Dickerson told Belcher that the ban on purchases From school employees and the creation of the internal auditor's position were two of the reforms put in place by Tyson.

    The school system did renew the contracts of Simpson and Thedford for the coming school year, but Dickerson said he does not know where they are assigned.

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