Parents, students upset over Furlow Charter principal’s dismissal

February 2020

Demoted Furlow Charter School Principal terminated, parents and students unhappy about school board

By Bobby Poitevint

AMERICUS, Ga. (WALB) – Assistant Principal Jason Williams has been fired from Furlow Charter School, according to Sumter County School District Superintendent Dr. Torrance Choates.

Williams was the principal of Furlow Charter School at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year.

In November, Williams was demoted to assistant principal by the Furlow Charter School board, according to Choates.

He was terminated on Jan. 24 during a called meeting.

Board members can be heard in the meeting saying “motion to terminate the employment of the vice-principal, all in favor, four in favor, all against, two against, motion carries. Assistant principal will be notified in five business days.”

Choates said it was Furlow Charter School’s board who made the decision to terminate Williams’ contract.

Furlow Charter School operates under the Sumter County School District, however, Furlow has its own governing board, and handles their own personnel issues, according to Choates.

The superintendent said the Sumter County School District has never intervened in personnel issues and have no plans to intervene now.

WALB reached out to Dr. John LeJeune, Furlow Charter School Board chairman, for comment. He declined to comment.

Jason Williams said he has been with the school since summer 2016.

Some parents and students are not happy about Williams’ exit from the school, and they want answers from the board.

Parents and students have concerns and thoughts about Williams, and the school board’s decision to terminate him.

“I didn’t agree with it. The board did not take our consideration,” April Mckinley, a parent of three Furlow Charter students, said. “I’m hoping that Jason’s gonna return here soon. It’s not the same here. My kids miss him. They really don’t want to be here because he’s not here.”

Kyle Heath is also a parent of three students at Furlow.

“Jason’s done so much for the school,” Heath said. “I just don’t understand why they would take a vital piece of the school and throw it away like garbage. He made everybody’s day whenever they first pulled up in the school.”

“I’m hoping they can reinstate Jason back to principal, not assistant, but principal,” Ken Mooney, another parent, said. “The board needs to step up and answer some questions.”

Said Wesley Walls, another parent: “I mean, if there’s wrongdoing, we need to know about it and if not give the man his job back and that’s what we need.”

Parents have even started a petition to remove Furlow’s governing board.

The petition has over 400 signatures.

“It speaks really strong with the community. I think we’re doing really good. I think that is phenomenal to be honest for a small town” said Walls.

Hunter Elliott is a Furlow Charter School fifth Grader.

“Mr. Williams is a good guy,” Elliot said. “He’s always been out there at the front greeting us and stuff. I had no clue that he was leaving until I went to the board meeting.”

Ken Barton, Williams’ legal representative, released the following statement Monday afternoon:

“Jason Williams is a veteran educator in Sumter County. Most recently, he served as assistant principal of Furlow Charter School and was then promoted to principal at the beginning of the school year. In late fall, a member of the governing board filed a complaint with the Georgia Professional Standards Commission. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide further comment until the time that Principal Williams is cleared by the Commission, which we expect to happen soon. He would like the community to know that there have not been any allegations concerning the safety of students or any misuse of school resources, and he categorically denies any claim that he violated any of his ethical or professional duties.”

“Over the last several months, the governing board demoted Principal Williams, demanded his resignation and then terminated his employment. On three separate occasions, Principal Williams requested a hearing that he is entitled under his contract, but those requests have been completely ignored. In addition to violations of Principal Williams’ contract and his rights under Georgia Law, the governing board’s attempts to remove him violated the Georgia Open Meetings Act.”

“It is our sincere hope that the governing board will work in good faith to resolve this matter and comply with the law. Principal Williams’ primary and sole motivation is to resolve any allegations made against him and return to educating the students and working for the families of Furlow Charter School.”