Cobb County schools eliminates ethics director’s job

A Cobb County school administrator’s job has been cut because of budget woes.

Mary Finlayson, the district’s professional standards and ethics director, had come under scrutiny from school board members and employees after two cases her office handled within the past year were dropped due to lack of evidence. However, officials with the district stopped short of tying the position elimination to the recent complaints.

Superintendent Michael Hinojosa and board chair Randy Scamihorn recently acknowledged in a joint statement that the human resources department will be reorganized as part of budget cuts. The school district is one of the county’s largest employers and Finlayson’s position is part of the human resources department. She led investigations of employee misconduct.

On Thursday, Cobb’s school board approved cutting 16 central office administration positions as part of an effort to close an $86.4 million budget deficit.

During the last five years, Cobb officials have disciplined at least 22 employees for violating the “mandated reporting law,” according to records. The law requires educators to report accusations of child abuse to the police or the Division of Family and Children Services within 24 hours. Nine employees lost their jobs as a result of the investigations, with some resigning or retiring.

Last year, Trudie Donovan, then principal at Cobb’s Kell High School, was charged with a misdemeanor after she was accused by Finlayson’s office of violating the mandated reporting law, which was recently expanded to include school and church volunteers.

Donovan was accused of failing to report the abuse of a student by a teacher. She has since retired. The incident was reported to DFCS, but not in a timely manner. A counselor involved in the incident resigned but was not charged criminally.

A judge later dismissed the criminal charge against Donovan.

More recently, Finlayson’s office attempted to suspend Jeff Crawford, a principal at Awtrey Middle School for insubordination and failing to properly report a student’s rape accusation. The accusation involved a teenager the same age as the female student. The alleged incident did not happen at the school. Administrators later dropped that case.

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