DeKalb team to compete; parks director fired

The DeKalb Swim League will be allowed to compete in the state swim meet this weekend in Carrollton, state officials decided late Tuesday.

Board members of the Georgia Recreation and Parks Association voted 4-3 to allow the team back into the water, despite repeated failures by DeKalb County Parks and Recreation officials to comply with state rules for registering the team.

"The past five days have seen a tremendous amount of dialogue between GRPA committees and leadership to come to this ruling," board president James Dodson said in an e-mail to media and parents.

The 67 swimmers on the team were back in the water Tuesday, practicing in anticipation that they would get to attend the meet that begins Friday.

DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis on Monday fired the county's parks and recreation director, whose office is responsible for entering athletic teams into competition.

Director Marilyn Drew said she would fight the dismissal.

Ellis also placed Al Sheppard, the acting deputy director of recreation services, on paid administrative leave. Ellis said he would immediately search for a new director of parks and recreation.

The move came after a weekend of outcry from parents of youths in the DeKalb Swim League, who learned last week they were never entered in the annual GRPA competition.

"In an attempt to correct the wrongs that have occurred in this regard, I am addressing the failings on the part of the Parks and Recreation Department officials," Ellis said in a letter addressed Monday to Dodson. "DeKalb's children should not be punished for these officials' lack of response."

Drew, reached at her home late Monday night, declined to discuss the issues Ellis wrote about. But the eight-year DeKalb County employee said she wouldn't give up her job easily.

"As a merit-protected employee, I will avail myself to the appeal process," Drew said.

Staff writer Katie Leslie contributed to this article.