LCS proposes new Fraternization and Nepotism policies

Leon County Schools
Georgia "Joy" Bowen
Posted at 8:52 PM, Aug 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-13 17:18:59-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - The Leon County school district is addressing workplace relationships.

At a workshop Monday night, the Leon County School Board looked over the draft of proposed new Fraternization and Nepotism policies.

"It's very challenging but because of that, we need to collaborate and communicate, make [the policies] more transparent," said Maggie Lewis-Butler, LCS School Board Vice Chair.

The Fraternization  and Nepotism policies would require employees who are working with or supervising a family member, spouse or romantic partner to disclose the relationship.

Rocky Hanna, Leon County Schools Superintendent gave some examples at Monday night's meeting: "A principal at a school where their mother-in-law is a teacher. A principal who's spouse is a teacher at the school."

This discussion comes about a month after David Solz, the principal of Gilchrist Elementary, disclosed he was in a relationship with a teacher he supervised. He was placed on administrative leave.

The school district is still investigating the nature of Solz's relationship with the teacher at Gilchrist. A district spokesman says they hope to wrap up the investigation soon. If Solz is cleared of wrongdoing, he could be reinstated at another school.

Eventually, employees could be transferred to comply with the policies, but that's not coming any time soon.

Leon County's new school year officially started Monday, so school board members want to give the district's approximately 4,500 employees plenty of time to understand and comply with the potential new policies.

"No one is going to lose their job over this and no one is going to be transferred right now," said Alva Striplin, LCS School Board Chair. "If there is a relationship within a same workplace environment, it has to be disclosed 30 days after the effectiveness of this policy. Then the superintendent will decide by next school year [where to] find a new home for one of those teachers or administrators."

Striplin says there are plenty of places to transfer to, since LCS has more than 50 school sites. She says the goal is to make sure Leon County Schools are a level playing field for all employees.

"We don't want favoritism, whether it be a realized, unintentional or perceived," said Striplin. "That just creates poison within a school site environment and we want to avoid that at all costs."

The proposed Fraternization and Nepotism policies will be brought up at the School Board meeting on August 28th.