Clark Testifies in Revocation Hearing
Wednesday, 24 February 2010

February 24--  We probably won't know the outcome till Spring, but former Montgomery County school superintendent Dale Clark spent over two hours Wednesday trying to retain her state education certification.

In 2007, the Georgia Professional Standards Commission determined there was probable cause to revoke her certification.  Lawyers for the PSC claim she failed to report an alleged inappropriate relationship between her daughter, former high school counselor Carrie O'Conner, and a 16-year-old male student at Montgomery County High School.  O'Conner was subseqently found not guilty of criminal charges due to lack of evidence and is no longer employed as a teacher.

Her mother told an administrative law hearing Wednesday morning in Dublin she did not report the case because it had already been reported.  Montgomery County High School teacher Christopher Bowman reported O'Conner to the PSC after notifiying a juvenile justice officer at the school which prompted a GBI investigation on March 20, 2007.

Clark described that day as a "day from Hell" in her testimony and said she ordered Bowman fired that day because he did not follow proper procedures in reporting his allegations.  She said Bowman had been repeatedly counselled for by-passing the chain of command and already knew he would not be employed at the school the next school term.  She also said she agreed to meet with him privately in her home a few days later at his request.  Bowman taped the meeting where she offered to give him a letter of recommendation if he would resign voluntarily.  He furnished a copy of the tape to the PSC.

According to Clark, GBI involvement cut off her ability to conduct an internal investigation.  She said without evidence, she had nothing to report to the PSC.  Clark cited a previous case where a male teacher had a relationship with a female student and resigned when faced with the results of an internal investigation.

The former superintendent also testified she telephonically reported her daughter to the PSC for changing the grade of her alleged boyfriend from a 13 to a 70 in the summer of 2007. The school board allowed O'Conner back in the school when her attorney pressed it to either hold a dismissal hearing on the sex allegations or put her back to work.  Again, Clark said they had no evidence upon which to dismiss her daughter and the board had no choice but to allow her to return.

State attorney Rebecca Mick challenged some of Clark's testimony and claimed it was inconsistent with her sworn statements in previous depositions.  Clark attorney Macky Bryant of Vidalia questioned the admissability of the depositions on procedural grounds.  Judge Ronit Walker took Bryant's objections under advisement.

The judge gave the attorneys ten days to file written closing arguments.  Her decision will be forwarded to the PSC for action.  State attorneys say it could be April or May before disposition of the case is made.  If it's not in Clark's favor, she can appeal in Superior Court.

Meanwhile, the PSC has another case pending against Clark involving alleged misuse of public funds for the lease of cell phones.   


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