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DON DOGGETT


Superintendent Don Doggett said there was only one camera placed without permission in McCormick County School District's school complex, and it was put in a server room.

The district's information technology director, William James of 609 Reed Ave., Lexington was placed on paid administrative leave with pay Jan. 17, a little more than a week after deputies watched surveillance footage of him and another employee seemingly arguing in the complex's hallway. The footage shows James point a finger at another employee, who is backing up, before the employee leaves and James goes into his office.

An attorney with the district, Kenneth Davis, said the footage has no sound.

James was charged with disturbing schools, and the incident report said he told deputies he had cameras in the complex that he monitored with his cellphone.

Although the incident report said James told deputies he had cameras, Doggett said there was only one camera.

"There was only one camera that was put in a server room," Doggett said. "The room had computer equipment in storage for the summer, it had hard drives, it actually has a running server that we use. So it's a server room where the camera was placed."

Doggett said it is not true that the employee and James got into a fight because the camera was in his office.

"He does have a work space there, but it's not his office," Doggett said. "The work space will be relocated, but equipment repair, computer deployment, things of that nature will still continue to be made in there, but it's a server room."

Doggett said according to state regulations, the server room has to have an alarm system, and James put a camera in there instead of an alarm system. Doggett said he did not give him permission to put a camera in the room.

"If he had asked and said he wanted to put one, I would have said, 'Go ahead and procure one and put it in there,'" Doggett said.

Doggett would not say whether James is still on paid administrative leave or not, but said it would be resolved by Monday.

Parents threw criticism at the district during a heated board meeting Monday night, venting about the $350,000 in Individuals with Disabilities Education Act funds that were filed late and the district will not receive, as well as accusations that Doggett did not fulfill his contract by living in the district.

"There is nothing to respond to as far as residency," Doggett said. "I have fulfilled my obligations for residency in McCormick County."

As far as IDEA funds, Doggett said the district is not using general obligation bonds to cover the loss, but has used money from the fund balance.

"We did not use $900,000 in bonds to pay down the deficit. The general obligation bond is used to pay down the debt that's owed on the construction of the high school. That's the only thing that the money can be used for and it's the only thing that the money is used for -- is to pay off the loans for building the complex, and there's three years remaining on that," Doggett said.

Doggett said the late filing was a human error.

"The issue with the not claiming is a human capacity issue. We only had two people that were handling the finances in a smaller district, and so there's not enough separation between job responsibilities sometimes for the actual programs, and it causes delays in some of the process," Doggett said. "So there was a deadline that was missed and that was the result. We are on top of it now and have things put in place."

Karen Beckner, chairwoman of the board of trustees, said the district's attorneys are investigating the camera incident.

"They're doing like the police did, they took statements, and that's an investigation. They did an internal investigation to see if there was any more cameras, what happened with the fight, that type of stuff," Beckner said. "Whatever an investigation entails."

Beckner said law enforcement likely would have investigated the incident if there was a crime committed.

"I would assume if a crime was committed, this is just my assumption, if a crime was committed, then the sheriff's office would investigate it, but as far as I know, they did not charge him with a crime related to a video camera," Beckner said.

As for the board meeting, Beckner said they appreciate participation but the audience can't personally attack anyone -- which she said includes asking Doggett if he's a resident of McCormick County.

"I enjoy parents coming out and commenting on issues that they have as long as they follow the board policy and they do not personally attack board members or school district employees," Beckner said. "That's unacceptable. You can't do that."

Some parents complained about the shortage of teachers in the middle school, which Beckner and Doggett said they are actively addressing.

"We are actively looking for certified science and math teachers," Beckner said. "As we speak we are actively looking."

Beckner said the best way to present issues with the district is to contact the superintendent, and if he doesn't follow up, contact a board member.

"If they went to the superintendent and he didn't follow up, then they could always contact a board member. It doesn't have to be me, it can be any board member, and follow up that way," Beckner said. "And then after that, if they didn't get any satisfaction there, then yeah, they can bring it to the board as a whole."

Contact staff writer Ariel Gilreath at 864-943-5644 or follow on Twitter@IJARIELGILREATH.