After six years as principal, Mike Culberson will not be returning to LaFayette High School next fall.
His departure will clearly happen, however the reasons FOR that departure have been made clear as mud by the school board, school superintendent, and Culberson himself. That leaves many of his students, and quite a few parents, suspicious and upset.
LHS students protesting on the football field earlier today, over the reported firing/removal of Principal Culberson.
Expect to see more of the same tonight at the school system office on Duke Street. The School Board will be meeting there at 6 tonight.
School officials still officially deny Culberson was dismissed; if he WAS fired or pushed out there's no clear theory yet as to why.
Posted by The LaFayette Underground on Monday, March 20, 2017
News broke Sunday, in an e-mail from the Walker County Educators Association, that Culberson had been “fired” on Friday. That e-mail sent to teachers blamed Culberson’s apparent termination on a disagreement he had with the Superintendent over grading standards.
The school board on Monday denied that Culberson had lost his job, said he was still employed at LHS, and nothing was changing in school leadership for the remainder of the school year. But Culberson wasn’t in his office, and unconvinced students staged a walkout and protest on his behalf.
The school board, despite the huge crowd, immediately went into a closed door meeting and ignored the public for an hour. Afterwards they came out and voted on one item – a list of administrator and principal contracts for the next school year. On that list was only one contract not being renewed: Mike Culberson’s.
After the meeting Superintendent Raines spoke and said the meeting was only about next year’s contracts, Mike Culberson is still employed for the current year, and “should” be at LHS the rest of the year. Raines added that Culberson asked him to respect his privacy, and nothing happening has any link to standards based grading issues.
Raines said the board can’t discuss employee matters with the public and blamed Jim Barrett’s board access lawsuit for refusing community input in the meeting. The Superintendent spoke to the gathered crowd (mostly media and LHS students) like a bunch of 5th graders, and thanked everyone for their interest and support.
None of that did much to clarify what was happening. Students, parents, and many school staffers remained confused and conflicted over Culberson’s status. (The principal himself didn’t participate in the school board meeting and refused to speak about his situation to media citing advice from an attorney.)
Mr. Culberson DID return to work on Tuesday, and was present at the school through the week making announcements and greeting students. But his school e-mail account stopped working (at least temporarily) and personal items were removed from his desk and office. Karen Hughes, a former principal recently working on projects in the central office, was sent to LHS where some observed her acting as a “babysitter” for principal Culberson.
So what DID happen?
Sources within Walker County Schools say Mike Culberson actually chose himself to have the School Board drop his contract for next year. His other option, from Superintendent Raines, was being investigated and probably fired for multiple ethics violations the board was concerned over.
He may have claimed initially that he was cut for a disagreement with the superintendent, but has during the last week backed down from that story. Those who were lined up to back him legally (the state and local teacher organizations) a weekend ago have gone silent in the days since the news of his dismissal first broke.
There are a dozen rumors going around as to what Culberson’s ethical violations might be, some more credible than others. (None, at this point, LU feels fully confident in sharing as the full truth.) Whatever the allegations are, they were apparently substantial enough that he opted to lose his current job instead of being investigated and risking public embarrassment and potentially the loss of his entire future career in another school district.
Sad news from Foster Blvd Saturday afternoon.
A 14-year-old boy driving a two-seat off-road vehicle similar to a gator was badly injured in an accident.
The boy, reportedly not wearing a seatbelt or helmet, rolled the vehicle on a steep hill.
Tuesday night Northwest Georgia was hit hard by a fast moving storm. The bad weather only lasted about an hour, but strong winds knocked out power for tens of thousands across the region. Hail larger than a dime did damage to vehicles and metal roofs in Rossville and Chattanooga.
Goodwill in LaFayette was battered but not broken, opening the next day as customers stepped around the thrift store’s downed signage. Most schools in Walker and surrounding counties opened several hours late so bus drivers would have better visibility.
If you’re hoping for “tiny house” rules in Walker that make sense, and give landowners freedom to do what they want, don’t hold your breath.
Members of the zoning board making up rules to regulate small houses, as instructed by Commissioner Whitfield in his six-month ban, say the structures will be segregated; zoned together into select parts of the county because they don’t want them next door to THEIR homes.
The county zoning director compares homes under 500 square feet to sheds, trailers, and shanties without toilets – while Whitfield himself says tiny homes are “ugly.”
- “And in Walker County, permitting staff employee Kristy Parker said, some people are living in storage units and calling them homes.”
So ban THAT instead of banning legitimate tiny houses. Require them to have bathrooms, plumbing, and electric put in to code. Don’t blanket ban them based on square footage.
Go look around the county and tell us how many FULL SIZE houses are dangerous abandoned eyesores that nobody pays taxes on.
A former substitute teacher at Gordon Lee is being investigated by the GBI for allegedly “[sending] inappropriate pictures to students.”
The female teacher, name not released pending investigation, was reported by her husband.
Superintendent Melody Day says the woman was on a list of substitutes, but is no longer employed by Chickamauga schools and it’s unclear when she was last in a classroom.
The charges sound serious, and if true should be handled in a serious way – but don’t forget the bogus, revenge-motivated Tonya Craft case ALSO began in a Chickamauga classroom with a complaint from an (ex) husband.
How embarassing is it when the other prisoners in the jail find out you were arrested for swiping junk from a dollar store?
- WQCH Radio, 03/18/17: “A SHOPLIFTER HAD THE WHOLE GROCERY LIST CONCEALED IN HIS CLOTHING, WHEN STOPPED BY POLICE [last] MONDAY, OUTSIDE THE SOUTH MAIN DOLLAR GENERAL.
- “51 YEAR OLD CRAIG LEBRON MCSEARS HAD FIVE PACKS OF HAMBURGER MEAT, HAMBURGER BUNS, CANS OF CHIPS, CANDY, BATTERIES AND CIGARETTE LIGHTERS, ALL IN HIS CLOTHING. AN EMPLOYEE ASKED IF HE HAD PURCHASES TO MAKE BEFORE HE LEFT THE STORE AND HE SAID ‘NO’.”
- WQCH Radio, 03/18/17: “A LOCAL RESIDENT WAS ARRESTED FRIDAY NIGHT ON A SHOPLIFTING CHARGE FROM THE SOUTH MAIN STREET FAMILY DOLLAR STORE.
- “35 YEAR OLD JAMIE ELAINE HILBURN WAS ARRESTED AFTER SHE TOOK SEVERAL ITEMS OF CLOTHING FROM THAT AREA OF THE STORE, TO ANOTHER AISLE, AND STARTED REMOVING THE PRICE TAGS. SHE ENTERED THE STORE CARRYING AN EMPTY DUFFEL BAG, ACCORDING TO STORE PERSONNEL.”
These two will have lots to talk about when/if they meet.
Plus: Walker County arrests, March 13-19.
During Tuesday’s storms, a small small group of Rossville voters narrowly approved legalizing Sunday beer sales and liquor by the drink inside city limits.
A small victory for personal freedom, chosen by the fewer than 150 Rossvillians who bothered voting.
Friday a series of fires were spotted along the side of highway 151 in Walker and heading into Catoosa.
Larry Bodily, accused of murdering his mother Karen Willmon a month ago, made his first appearance in an Alabama courtroom on Thursday.
He’s been held in jail on a half-million-dollar bond since Willmon’s remains were found. Investigators say the 68-year-old woman was robbed and beaten to death by her son.
The third and final “megaload” of heavy equipment bound for Roper cut through the county late Monday night, successfully arriving at the mill a little before midnight.
Traffic was disrupted again along the 136/151/Naomi/136/27 bypass route used previously, but being later in the day inconvenienced fewer people.
All else aside, this is a good sign that Roper is healthy. Haier/GE Appliances is continuing to invest big bucks into one of its more profitable operations, which means they’re not planning to close or move the mill any time soon.
Saturday the TAG 80 locomotive was back in Walker County for the first time in thirty years.
The Tennessee-Alabama-Georgia rail line, back in its heyday, ran from Alton Park in Chattanooga through west Walker (Flintstone, Kensington, Chelsea) to Menlo and on to Gadsden. This engine was seen daily in the county in the 60’s and 70’s and then run to retirement around the country by Southern and Norfolk-Southern.
TAG’s 80 engine was purchased by the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum years ago and fully restored inside and out over the last few years. This spring is the 49-year-old GP-38’s first season in service for tourism and railfans.
Georgia’s legislature has approved a bill that would finally, after a century of restrictions, allow craft breweries and wineries to directly sell a limited amount of their packaged product to people who visit their facilities.
The measure, which has been opposed for years by large beer companies and their distributors, got YES votes from all three of Walker County’s legislators and most lawmakers from around the state. SB 85 now only has to be signed by Gov. Deal before becoming the law of the land.
And his mugshot makes all that worth sharing.
Some Georgia prison inmates are more successful in crime behind bars than out free, making tens of thousands of dollars by smuggling contraband inside. They’re getting sophisticated, with some even employing drones.
Curb Free with Cory Lee has garnered national attention, but handicapped blogger Cory Woodard would often be stuck without the help of his friend Kela Mitchell. (Both are from LaFayette.)
This week Channel 9 recognized Mitchell for her service with a “Pay it Forward” award.