An investigation into the ethics of Dawson County High School's principal has led to a nearly month-long, unpaid suspension that begins Monday.
The Ethics Division of the Georgia Professional Standards Commission informed Dawson County Schools Feb. 25 that it will suspend Wayne Chelf's educational certification from March 1-March 26.
According to a "Final Order" from the standards commission obtained through an open records request, Chelf has until mid-March to "appeal the findings."
The action comes in the wake of an investigation by the standards commission--based in Atlanta. Director Gary Walker said it involved three standards in particular: conduct with students, honesty and professional conduct.
Dawson County Schools Superintendent Keith Porter said Feb. 26 that Chelf "will not be returning to the high school."
Porter explained that after the suspension, Chelf's certification will be reinstated, according to standard's commission rules, "…but the decision's been made that he will not be returning."
Porter, who made the decision to reassign him, said Chelf "is being reassigned to a location, to be determined, to complete system projects that will be assigned at a later date."
The standards commission reviewed the case Jan.13 after, according to Porter, "the school system completed an investigation which led to the information that was provided to the professional standards commission."
Porter said he will recommend career and technology supervisor Neil Harrison as an interim principal for the high school at the board's March 2 work session.
A letter went home with students Feb. 26 addressing the situation, Porter said.
Chelf gave the board of education a letter of resignation Feb. 5.
The board voted unanimously to accept the resignation at the Feb. 8 meeting.
Repeated calls to Chelf have not been returned.
According to his resignation letter, dated Feb. 5, Chelf cited “emerging health issues and personal considerations” for his decision.
The letter stated he “[does] not wish to be considered for, nor will I accept if offered, a contract for employment for the 2010-2011 school year.”
The resignation is effective June 30, which is when his current contract expires.
The ethics rules are part of the Georgia Professional Standards Commission’s governing code, which serves to “define the professional behavior of educators in Georgia and serve as a guide to ethical conduct.”
Following investigation, the ethics board can dismiss the case or take one of several disciplinary actions: a warning, reprimand, suspension or revocation of certification.
Chelf joined the local school district in 2007. He previously served for five years as a principal and assistant principal at Lakeside High School in DeKalb County.
He was removed as Lakeside’s principal in March 2006 for what DeKalb Superintendent Crawford Lewis called “leadership issues.”
Parents and students protested the removal, and Chelf was reinstated within two weeks.
During contract negotiations in 2007, Chelf learned he and several other principals would be reassigned to different schools within the system.
His contract with DeKalb County schools ended June 29, 2007, at which time he relocated to Dawson County.