Bearden is finalist for Rome schools’ top job

Fayette County School Superintendent Jeff Bearden. 2010 photo by Ben Nelms.

Outgoing Fayette County School Superintendent Jeff Bearden may have lost out on the top job with the Floyd County School System in northwest Georgia, but he is in the running for the superintendent’s job with Rome City Schools, also in Floyd County. The Rome City Schools Board of Education is expected to make a decision on the new superintendent by Nov. 30.

Bearden is one of three finalists for the job in Rome and was one of two finalists for the superintendent’s job with the Floyd system. But the Floyd County Board of Education on Nov. 5 selected one of its long-time employees to fill the position.

In terms of population, Rome is home to approximately 35,000 residents, about the size of Peachtree City. The school system has seven elementary schools, one middle, one high school, Rome Transitional Academy and the Phoenix Learning Center.

Bearden is currently competing with the superintendents from Gordon County and Pelham City Schools, according to the Rome News-Tribune. With a population of approximately 55,000, Gordon County is situated adjacent to Floyd County and has six elementary schools, two middle schools and two high schools. And located in Mitchell County in south Georgia, Pelham has a population of approximately 4,000 and operates three schools.

The Rome school board has a Nov. 30 deadline to select the new superintendent, according to reports.

It was on Sept. 19 that Bearden and the Fayette County Board of Education entered into a mutual termination agreement that cited Dec. 31 as his last day of employment. But according to documents on the Floyd County School System website, Bearden completed an application and resume for superintendent’s job on Sept. 4, a full two weeks before he and the Fayette school board agreed to the mutual termination.

The terms of the agreement call for Bearden’s contract to remain in effect through Dec. 31. The agreement states that, following that date, he will receive an amount equal to one year of annual salary. That salary is $153,000, according to his most recent contract extension executed during the summer.

The agreement also calls for Bearden to receive funds necessary to pay the state health insurance premium or costs for one year, to receive an amount equal to the daily rate for any accumulated annual leave already accrued and up $2,500 in documented attorney’s fees.

Larry Sussberg
Larry Sussberg's picture
Joined: 02/12/2009
It might be time to move on

In the spirit of the holidays, I think its time to move on....this topic has been beaten to death!

Whatever the scenario...Dr. Bearden is moving on and hopefully will get a wonderful job in Georgia near his family, and with a school system that appreciates him for the talents he offers which are many.

Also, we the residents of Fayette, have new FCBOE members who will offer fresh ideas and great governance to a new superintendent and restructed school system keeping it one of the best in Georgia to attract new families and much needed economic development to Fayette.

Its excting to see so many parents alerted and "on guard" to ensure the best interests of their children are being watched after. They are also now fully aware of the financial challenges that the school system faces so that whatever cuts are needed, as hard as they might be,they will understand and assist as they have been doing on the various committees.

I suspect everyone involved with our schools will now act appropriately and in accordance with the rules of State of GA Department of Education and SACS.

NUK_1's picture
Joined: 12/17/2007
Bah Humbug
Larry Sussberg wrote:

In the spirit of the holidays, I think its time to move on....this topic has been beaten to death!

Whatever the scenario...Dr. Bearden is moving on and hopefully will get a wonderful job in Georgia near his family, and with a school system that appreciates him for the talents he offers which are many.

I could care less what job Bearden gets in any state and thought he sucked as a superintendent in FC. I didn't see any of those "many talents" whatsoever besides being able to adeptly enrich himself while watching the school system he was in charge of begin to crumble and then bail with a great deal for himself.

Decotis kicked the can down the road when seeing what was about to happen...Bearden picked the can up and hauled it about 1,000 miles away from the problem and tried to pretend it was gone. FC can do a lot better than the pathetic non-leadership of Dr. Bearden. Good riddance.

Newsboy's picture
Joined: 09/01/2006
This is easy ...

Bearden is making the short list for these jobs because he's got "Fayette County Superintendent" on his résumé. Despite what those here want to believe, Fayette County schools are still known for being among the very best in the state and it makes places like Floyd and Road look really good having someone with that pedigree to consider -- even when the decision had already been made to promote from within (as Floyd County did). Bearden was NEVER in serious contention for that job and I doubt he is for the Rome job as well.

Besides, let's be honest here: At this stage any job he applies for is going to be a huge step down, just as his move here was an illogical leap up.

Gene61's picture
Joined: 01/14/2009
Outgoing Fayette County School Superintendent Jeff Bearden

Sure would like to know more about his removal...This would be a good story, since we the taxpayers are still paying this man and his atty fees..

Smart Woman
Smart Woman's picture
Joined: 07/15/2010
More questions than answers.

Let’s ask a few questions. Why would the board fire Bearden? He had the support of Smith, Smola, and Presberg. That is a 3-2 vote to keep him. Why would these 5 board members vote 5-0 to extend his contract if they knew that in 3 months they would fire him? Why would this board vote 4-1 to fire Bearden and then let him stay until December 31? Why was he applying for other jobs before the “called meeting” when the agreement was made? Could it be that Bearden planned this? He wanted to bail. He got the board to vote in June for a contract extension, then in September asked for a settlement so that he could leave but with the provision that there would be no discussion outside of the room or he would seek all of the money due from the entire contract. Why would he want to keep this quiet? Everyone would believe that he was run off without justification.

G35 Dude
G35 Dude's picture
Joined: 02/15/2006
Smart Woman-Maybe we needed a plumber

The Board has to have done something illegal/immoral or they would not have agreed to this settlement with 3 members knowing that he (Bearden) was seeking employment elsewhere. Some think that his run ins with Todd/Key over which schools to close led to a member of the BOE leaking information that Bearden would be fired. If this is true that could be seen as breach of contract and would have put Bearden in the drivers seat to get this settlement. If it could be proven which member leaked this information he should sued by the citizens of Fayette County.

Veritas's picture
Joined: 06/23/2010
G35 if your going to speculate repeat myself... Include all the possibilities

I get tired if hearing the speculation about "it had to be the board ... The board had something to hide etc etc" That may be true but so may another scenario . Maybe Bearden asked for it. He was after all seeking he was employment in Floyd county and did not want them to find out somethings he may have done to jeopardize the school system and it's accreditation. I have also heard that he left his previous position under similar circumstances. Anybody realize that he does not include one single reference from his job in Maine... Hmmmm
Actually, I wish they could have held him off and just fired him at no cost for breech of fiduciary responsibility as was a common theme after Dr. Tolbert passed away. (Tolbert and the finace committe asked for full budget Bearden refused .... Asked for more options in school closures and study as to reasoning... Refused and then wrote a letter to the paper refusing any option for consideration other than his own. ) Everyone always seems to miss the obvious. With his recent contract extension he legally was entitled to 2 yrs pay. In a no fault agreement usually the employer is still legally bound by the contracts terms of salary. But amazingly ( and I hate his severance deal too) he only gets one years salary. Look no further than Clayton counties former super that they had to pay out the remainder of his contract 3 or 4 years worth of salary. I'm just saying look at all possibilities before assuming too much. Either way Fayette county citizens and students got the shaft.

G35 Dude
G35 Dude's picture
Joined: 02/15/2006
Veritas- At least we agree on one thing!

It's hard to speculate on things that you're not aware of. Your scenario is not one I've heard before but is a very interesting read. As you say all we really know is that the citizens of Fayette County got the shaft and the players involved do not think we deserve an answer.

SPQR's picture
Joined: 12/15/2007
might make a good story

If the Citizen inquired as to why these school boards are considering our soon to be former superintendent when he is leaving his last employment under questionable circumstances.