Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa recommended that the board hire Sharp, though Hinojosa has since declined to explain that recommendation, citing it as a personnel matter.
Sharp’s certificate was suspended for actions that occured when he was employed by the school district of Thomas County, which is about 45 minutes west of Valdosta. He started work at Sprayberry last Friday at an annual salary of $80,864.
Sharp, who previously worked in Cobb as an administrator at North Cobb High from 2005 to 2008, did not return a call for comment for this story.
None of Cobb’s board members publicly mentioned the suspension at the time of their Aug. 23 vote.
But this week board member Tim Stultz, who with Alison Bartlett and Kathleen Angelucci voted against hiring Sharp, said: “The district needs to have high standards for potential and current employees, and I don’t believe that certificate suspension meets those standards.”
Bartlett confirmed that she was aware of the suspension and that it is why she voted against Sharp’s hire, but declined to say more.
“It’s a personnel issue, and it gets into very murky waters,” Bartlett said.
Angelucci also declined to comment because it is a personnel issue.
But those on the board who supported Sharp’s hiring include David Banks, whose area encompasses Sprayberry High.
“I had conversations with several principals in this area that knew him and also, some of the community that knew him … a lot of people had worked with him and knew him very well. I analyzed the situation he had gotten into and from what I understand, it’s questionable whether there’s anything there, but that’s immaterial now,” Banks said. “The sources that were talking to me would say that his references were top notch.”
Board member Lynnda Eagle declined to explain her vote in favor of the hire, citing it as a personnel issue.
Board member David Morgan said only: “I have faith that if the superintendent is comfortable with someone, then they’re going to do a good job in whatever position they might have in our school district.”
Board chairman Scott Sweeney did not respond to inquiries about Sharp.
Sharp was principal of Thomas County Central High School from 2008 to 2011, before being promoted to that district’s director of administrative services, a central-office job, in the 2011-12 school year.
The Thomas County school board hired Dr. Dusty Kornegay as its new superintendent as of July 1, 2011.
Kornegay later filed a complaint to the PSC alleging several infractions on Sharp’s part, including that Sharp had changed the transcript of a daughter of the previous superintendent and did not compute the college grades of dually enrolled students into their grade-point averages, a move that also benefitted a daughter of the previous superintendent.
Sharp resigned from Thomas County Schools on June 21, 2012, less than two weeks before he signed a consent order with the Georgia Professional Standards Commission on July 3.
According to that consent order: Sharp “facilitated the changing of the previous superintendent’s daughter’s transcript to reflect that the student had completed the personal fitness class.”
That order also states Sharp allowed several different classes to substitute for a required personal-fitness class, contrary to Department of Education requirements; created a “Mentorship” class that had little or no academic requirement and submitted it for FTE funding; and did not allow some students’ dual enrollment grades to be included on their high school transcipts.
The Professional Standards Commission voted to approve the consent order on July 12.
Connie Jackson, president of the Cobb County Association of Educators, said she was not aware of Sharp’s past but is concerned that the board was not unanimous in its hiring of Sharp and questioned hiring from outside the district when there is an “incredible talent pool in Cobb.”
“If you have the talent and you have the people, why would you not want to encourage them by giving them something to reach for and work for?” she asked. “When you see hires from outside the county, it always makes you think there aren’t good enough people here in Cobb — but I know there are.”
The Cobb school board first voted on Sharp’s hire on Aug. 8, but deadlocked in a 3-3 vote when member Eagle was absent.