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Parents riled at Banks school official

Reportedly made children drink from fountain

POSTED: June 24, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Angry Banks County parents want an assistant principal fired after she reportedly made about 100 fifth-graders drink from a fountain that may have been contaminated with urine.

Some 25 parents have retained Cornelia attorney Chan Caudell, though no lawsuit has been filed. They are seeking the ouster of Lori Rylee, the assistant principal at Banks County Elementary School in Homer.

Caudell said on May 15, it was suspected that someone urinated in or poured urine into a drinking fountain at the school.

Rylee lined up every male fifth-grader and had them drink from the fountain, presumably in an attempt to identify the culprit, he said. No one claimed responsibility.

"It’s one of the most bizarre cases I’ve ever seen," Caudell said.

Caudell said it started when one child reported smelling urine in the fountain and the information was relayed to Rylee, "who lined (the children) up and forced them to drink from the fountain, even if they weren’t thirsty."

No girls were made to drink from the fountain, he said.

The school serves about 600 children in the third, fourth and fifth grades. Caudell said he did not know why only fifth-grade boys were made to drink from the fountain.

Parents of some of the children came to Caudell after they addressed the Banks County Board of Education during a May meeting and were unsatisfied with the board’s response, he said.

The parents want Rylee fired, he said.

"Quite frankly, they don’t feel like she ought to be in the school over their children," Caudell said.

Efforts to reach Rylee were unsuccessful.

Banks County Board of Education Chairman Ron Gardiner said an investigation into the matter was ongoing and that there was no timeline for when it would be completed. He declined to comment on whether the board might take action against any personnel.

Banks County Superintendent Chris Erwin was out of town and unavailable for comment. Assistant Superintendent Donna Reed said Wednesday that the investigation into the matter had not been completed.

Caudell said the fountain had been sent off to a lab for tests. Reed could not confirm whether it was being tested.

Caudell said any litigation would depend on what decision the school board ultimately made in the case.

The parents of the children were "shocked," Caudell said.

"There was complete dismay that their children were subjected to something like this," he said. "They’re outraged."



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