MILTON, Ga. – One year after guiding his school to a National School of Excellence, Crabapple Crossing Elementary School has lost its high-achieving principal for what appears to be lapses of judgment concerning employee comp time and childcare.
In a letter to parents on the final day of classes in December, former Principal George Freiberger outlined the circumstances leading to his abrupt resignation. He said his departure was with a “heavy heart” but best for all involved.
“Though not intentionally, I made some poor decisions regarding county policies involving my employees’ leave time, the business partnerships with our after-school enrichment programs and the after-school care for my children,” wrote Freiberger in a surprisingly candid letter dated Dec. 20.
Fulton School officials said the issues did not rise to the level of criminal wrongdoing, but were reportable offenses to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission. This agency sets and applies guidelines for the certification and licensing of public educators in Georgia.
Freiberger’s children apparently received services at no cost through a private after-school program at Crabapple Crossing. In addition, some employees were allegedly allowed to take comp time for hours worked. Both issues violate school system policy.
While not confirming directly the reasons behind the resignation, officials said an investigation had been on-going for the past few months after anonymous tips were reported to the school system.
Ron Wade, human resources director for Fulton Schools, said the letter Freiberger sent to parents acknowledges “serious lapses in judgment,” but that the principal handled the situation very professionally.
“[In] tendering his resignation and accepting responsibility for his actions, [Freiberger] showed professionalism during an unfortunate situation,” said Wade. “The district holds its school and central leaders to a greater standard, given that they are charged with managing and supervising others who must too work in accordance to district policies and ethical practices.”
Freiberger has spent his entire educational career at Crabapple Crossing, starting out as a teacher in 1998 before being promoted to assistant principal in 2004, and ultimately the principal in 2009.
Freiberger attended Villanova University in Pennsylvania on a football scholarship, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s degree in educational leadership in 1998. He also holds a specialist’s degree from Lincoln Memorial University.
In 2012, Crabapple Crossing Elementary was named a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, following its designation as a Georgia School of Excellence in 2010. Freiberger was also one of only four principals across the state to receive the Georgia PTA’s Outstanding Principals Award in 2013.
Until a permanent principal is hired, the Fulton School System has named Lenni Forti as the interim principal at Crabapple Crossing. Forti is a former principal at Sweet Apple Elementary School and also served as an assistant principal at Barnwell, Lake Windward, Mountain Park and Roswell North elementary schools before his retirement two years ago.