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Glowing job reviews for Buford superintendent accused of racism

Superintendent Geye Hamby, who a lawsuit contends made openly racist comments, has consistently received glowing reviews for his oversight of the Buford school system, according to personnel files obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“He is near perfect for our school district,” his January 2017 evaluation assessment said. The kudos on the 15-page form were written by school board member Phillip Beard, who also chairs the city commission.

This past January, Beard wrote on Hamby’s evaluation, “Good leader — leads by example.” Hamby’s only area for improvement, was “media,” said his personnel file, obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution through an Open Records Act request.

Buford school board, from left to right: Phillip Beard, Pat Pirkle, Daren Perkins, Beth Lancaster and Bruce Fricks. (Buford school district) (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Hamby is at the center of a race discrimination lawsuit filed in June that includes audio recordings of a man who repeatedly uses the n-word and speaks of wanting to kill a black construction worker who’d angered him. The lawsuit says the man making those comments is Hamby. The plaintiff’s lawyer, Ed Buckley, said he’s had an expert examine the recordings and is certain it’s the school leader.

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“(Expletive) that (n-word). I’ll kill these (expletive) – shoot that (expletive) if they let me,” the person identified as Hamby can be heard saying. The person speaking repeatedly refers to blacks as “deadbeat (n-word).

On Tuesday, in a statement emailed to the AJC, Hamby did not directly address the allegations. “This is a personnel and legal matter pertaining to a disgruntled employee,” he wrote. He added that he’d been instructed “not to comment.”

Hamby’s evaluations show that, year after year, he received the highest mark — “outstanding” — in almost all of the dozens of categories for which he was graded. And he received the second-highest mark — “good” — for almost all of the other categories.

The school board’s happiness with Hamby’s performance is reflected by steady pay raises. When Hamby, 49, took over as superintendent in 2006 he was earning $163,000, his personnel files show. By 2012, he was making a base salary of $208,471. This year, he’s making $308,000, records show.

“His total involvement in the schools with employees, students and parents are tops,” Beard wrote in Hamby’s 2013 evaluation. The following year, Beard wrote, “Keep up the good job. Things are great.”

August 15, 2018 Atlanta - Mary Ingram, former employee with Buford City Schools, speaks at Buckley Beal law office on Wednesday, August 15, 2018. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

The lawsuit against the district was filed by Mary Ingram who said she was fired after clashing with Hamby over the school district’s colors.

The 66-year-old paraprofessional claims that after she went public with her complaint, Hamby retaliated and her performance reviews suffered. Ingram said the district wasn’t adhering to a promise to include gold in the official colors. Gold was representative of the city’s black school district before the it was integrated in 1969.

Listen to the audio recording here:

Geye Hamby, the superintendent of Buford City Schools, is accused as part of a race discrimination lawsuit of using racist language and making a reference to killing black construction workers.

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