Former principal accused of sexual misconduct not still on payroll

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February 21, 2007

WARRENTON, Ga.---News 12 has learned a principal accused of an inappropriate relationship with a student is not still being paid by the school board.

News 12 talked to the superintendent of Warren County, who says the board acted quickly and in the community's best interest.

At last night's Warren County Board of Education meeting, at least one person showed up wanting to know if former Warren County High School Principal Thomas McDonald was still on the county's payroll. McDonald has been charged with having an inappropriate relationship with a 15-year-old student.

Superintendent Carole Jean Carey says McDonald has been off the payroll since January.

"I supposed since the news wasn't that the superintendent didn't fire the principal, they wanted to know why we didn't do that," she told News 12.

In a letter dated December 28, 2006, McDonald's attorney asks the superintendent to put McDonald on unpaid leave of absence, to begin at the start of the new year.

Up until then, and as routine procedure, McDonald was on paid administrative leave.

"Many people think when an educator has done something wrong they should be fired on the spot, which may, may not be true," Superintendent Carey said. "But educators in Georgia are given due process."

She says McDonald took the initiative before that could happen by issuing a letter of resignation to the board.

In that same letter he also asks the board to continue his health insurance through June and to pay $1,000 as partial compensation. Carey says that not only saved taxpayer money but also saved having to call in students as part of the investigation.

"We're thrilled he chose to resign because that prohibits us from placing children on the stand to be cross-examined by both attorneys," she said. "We've been through it before, and it's not a good scenario."

The superintendent also says McDonald has waived all rights to a hearing and to an appeal.

Now hoping to put these matters behind them, the board has put together a search committee to select a new principal.

So far 35 people have applied for the job.

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