Grady County Board of Commissioners, Grady County Board of Education and Grady County sheriff couldn’t agree on hiring a CHAMPS officer for the upcoming school year, leaving them until next summer to decide on an appropriate candidate for the position.
CHAMPS is an educational program developed and implemented by the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association to provide Georgia’s youth with guidance and the skills, ability and knowledge to be safe, healthy and happy in preparation for a successful life. CHAMPS stands for Choosing Healthy Activities and Methods Promoting Safety.
On June 3 during the commissioners’ meeting, Chairman T.D. David, Sheriff Harry Young and Assistant Superintendent Kermit Gilliard Jr., signed an agreement for a CHAMPS officer to be hired in Grady County Schools. However, after interviews for the position were completed on June 12, the officials couldn;t make a decision on which applicant to place in the position.
Gilliard said “After interviews on Thursday, I agreed with the sheriff on who we would offer the CHAMPS position. The following week, the superintendent and board chairman received calls with concerns about the gentleman that was selected.”
Grady County School Superintendent Lee Bailey and Gilliard met with the county administrator, Carlos Tobar, and expressed their concerns.
“The following morning, Superintendent Lee Bailey, Board of Education Chairman Jeff Worsham, County Administrator Carlos Tobar, County Commissioner Chairman T.D. David, County Clerk Carrie Kines and I met in the superintendent’s office. Mr. David expressed that the sheriff was not willing to hire any of the other applicants,” Gilliard said.
According to Gilliard, Bailey told the group the school system was willing to hire the person that was considered second of the three interviewed. Following the meeting, Worsham contacted Young to see if he was willing to hire the second applicant. He did not agree.
Young believes the Sheriff’s Office should handle the hiring of the officer since he or she will be hired by as a deputy when school is not in session.
“We have a good school board and commissioners and I appreciate them, but they don’t have the authority to choose the officer,” Young said. “This is a Georgia Sheriffs Association program and position. The school can tell the officer where to go and if there is a problem, they could contact me.”
The sheriff wanted to place a deputy who is already on his staff if the position and the deputy would only have had to go through CHAMPS training.
Young said, “I’m the one responsible for the CHAMPS officer. This program has proven to be very effective in other counties, but only with the right person in the position. It needs to be a specific person, and I know how to pick them. We can’t have three bosses.”
Training for CHAMPS officers is only offered once a year. The 2014 session started Monday, meaning the school system will have to wait another year to start the program.
“Hopefully, they will let me do the program like it should be done,” said Young.
The CHAMPS officer is being funded by the school board and the county commission.
“It is unfortunate that we were not able to agree on the officer,” said Gilliard. “We see this position as a win-win for the BOE and the Sheriff’s Office as it gives us an officer teaching safety to our fifth graders and serving as a school resource officer during the school day, and it gives the sheriff an additional patrolman when school is not in session.”
Reporter Susanne Reynolds can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1826.