Muscogee County School Board members at odds over alleged ethics violations

COLUMBUS, Ga. — A Muscogee County School board member claims the board chair’s accusation that he violated an ethics clause has no support. The alleged ethics violations stems from Frank Myers’ willingness to be deposed in the case of Columbus teen Montravious Thomas. Montravious attended Edgewood Student Services Center in Fall 2016.

The school district says a contracted behavioral specialist physically disciplined the teen in September. Montravious would later have his leg amputated following the incident. His family sued the school district in March. However,  controversy still lingers. The wedge between school board members comes over whether Frank Myers (District 8) and John Thomas (District 2) acted ethically in providing information separate from the school board. That information, Myers and Thomas say, could impact the family’s lawsuit.

Board chair Pat Hugley Green says a violation in the school board’s code of ethics could result in the loss of accreditation for the Muscogee County School District.

“This went on and on and on, and thing is…it’s just baseless,” Myers said. “I’m the one who went to the authorities. I’m the one who’s offered to give sworn testimony.”

Myers calls Hugley Green’s warning a “scare tactic.” He believes accreditation should not fall on his honesty to relay what he believes is appropriate information to seek justice in Montravious’s case.

“There’s no even remote possible violation of any accreditation standards by us speaking the truth,” Myers said. “As a lawyer, all you have is your ethics,” Myers said. “And if you lose your ethics, you don’t have anything.”

Hugley Green says the board would consider hiring independent counsel to determine if there are any ethics violations. She says the outside group would investigate each board member for potential wrongdoing.

“That particular counsel would advise us going forward if there’s anything we need to correct, protect, be informed about that would jeopardize accreditation, because that’s the bottom line,” Hugley Green said.

News 3 spoke with the attorney for Montravious Thomas’s family. Renee Tucker says confirmed that Myers and John Thomas offered information relating to a $25 million lawsuit against the school district.

“I can’t tell you what’s being done in a legal and ethical manner,” Tucker said. “I can tell you they’ve offered and provided that information. Whether that’s the full extent of information that has yet to be determined.”

Tucker says the lawsuit is only one factor in the family’s recovery.

“Everyday is a coping process,” Tucker explained. “So they’re coping, and I can say they’re doing the best that they possibly can under all the circumstances.”

Hugley Green says any decisions based on the outcome of a possible independent investigation would come at a later date. But she maintained a proactive stance when rooting out any potential red flags. This comes ahead of an Advance Ed visit in October.

“It’s not about any isolated incident or any particular person,” Hugley Green said. “It’s board conduct. Board means we act as a whole, and not as individuals.”

The school board decided to table the need for independent counsel to investigate each board member until late July. The decision was made during a called meeting Monday night — a meeting Myers never made because of prior travel arrangements. He tells News 3 the consideration for special counsel came three days before Monday’s board meeting.

Meanwhile, attorneys for both the family of Montravious Thomas and the school district are gathering evidence in the lawsuit. Stay with News 3 for updates on air and online.

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