By Kevin Hogencamp
These are anxious times in Albany, particularly in the public school system.
And especially in the school’s administrative offices following the rogue process that resulted in the hiring of Superintendent Joshua Murfree and amid budget cutbacks and a cheating scandal that could result in the Dougherty County School Board losing some of its members and federal and state funding.
The situation’s boiling point became evident on Monday when an argument occurred and altercation erupted not at a school where such occurrences are more typical but between a top administrator, Robert Lloyd, and the public information director, R.D. Harter.
Harter would not comment Tuesday except to confirm that he was the victim of a “one-sided physical altercation” with Lloyd, the system’s executive director of operations and business services.
Lloyd and Superintendent Joshua Murfree did not respond to The Albany Journal’s request to be interviewed; indeed, Murfree has refused to be interviewed by the newspaper since being selected as superintendent over at least 35 applicants that school board members said were more qualified than him. One of the school board members, Anita Brown-Williams, had an undisclosed business relationship with Murfree through her church. Murfree was previously Albany State University’s athletics director.
A source close to the situation told the Journal on Tuesday that Lloyd lost his temper while the two were at the system’s office at 200 Pine Ave. after Harter asked him who revised the system’s customer service surveys. Harter declined to press charges against Lloyd.
Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, meanwhile, has appointed an investigative team to attempt to get to the bottom of compelling evidence that widespread cheating occurred during standardized testing last year at Dougherty County schools. Perdue says that local officials refused to attempt to find out who tampered with the tests, a claim Murfree and some school board members deny.
“They have been cheated by adults who made it look like they are farther along educationally than they really were,” Perdue said. “For those children, we must do everything in our power to rectify this situation.”