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School system to receive portion of stolen money back

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Floyd County Board of Education members recently approved a monetary settlement that will return a small portion of the estimated $4 million they lost due to a spending scandal in the system.

The board members approved a settlement Tuesday that awarded the system a total of $112,000 from two of the defendants in the civil case filed under the Georgia Racketeer and Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act, according to Floyd County Schools Superintendent John Jackson.

The two defendants — unnamed by Jackson — decided to turn over seized assets to the school system instead of going to court, Jackson said. One settlement was for $96,000 and the other for $16,000.

“Those two agreed to mediation and agreed to settle,” explained Jackson. “There are still other defendants. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of the resources and money taken from the school system being returned to the boys and girls of Floyd County.”

Arrests were made in 2016 of 10 people involved in the case, including the system’s former maintenance director Derry Richardson. Richardson and nine other alleged co-conspirators were charged with inflating and falsifying invoices paid by the school system.

They are each charged with violating the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and other crimes.

In other business, the board named the new principal for Armuchee High School. John Rhodarmer, current assistant principal at Coosa High School, will take the helm at Armuchee after longtime principal James Burris retires this summer.

Rhodarmer has been assistant principal at Coosa High for three years and was a teacher and coach at Pepperell High before that.

“I am excited about moving to Armuchee High,” he said. “It’s a great community with great students and I am looking forward to being a part of it.”

Rhodarmer said he will be working with Burris to make the transition as smooth as possible.

“He is making the move easy for me, and Trevor Hubbard here at Coosa has been a great leader and is working with me so I can move back and forth between the schools,” he said.

The board took a field trip of sorts for their meeting this month, moving locations to the new Coosa High school performing arts center. The board toured the newly opened center, as well as the gymnasium. They also were able to enjoy several performances by the chorus, the winter guard and the competition cheerleaders.

“I’ve lived in the Armuchee community for years and I love it, but it is always good to come home,” said Chip Hood, board chair and Coosa graduate. “This is a great facility and I know the community is incredibly proud of it.”

Hubbard, the school’s principal, spoke to the crowd gathered in the auditorium about some of the high school’s history and achievements.

“These buildings could not have been built without the support of the parents, the teachers, the BOE and the community,” he said. “I have to thank everyone for supporting the education special purpose, local option sales tax.”

The school is the $32 million centerpiece of the system’s list of projects from ELOST 4 which started in April 2014.