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North Clayton coach out after scandal investigation

By Curt Yeomans and Doug Gorman

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Donald Shockley, long-time North Clayton High School head football coach and athletic director, and father of Atlanta Falcons quarterback, D.J. Shockley, resigned on Jan. 7, after a board of education investigation found he allegedly took pictures of a former North Clayton High School assistant principal in her lingerie during a trip to Savannah.

The photographs of North Clayton Assistant Principal Josette Franklin began circulating among students after a pupil found the pictures, while doing repairs on Shockley's school-issued laptop computer. The pupil downloaded the photos to his iPod and began showing them to other students.

According to investigation documents, the photographs were taken on Feb. 17, 2007, in a Savannah hotel room.

Students and faculty members began whispering about the pictures, ultimately leading to North Clayton Principal Ray Hill filing a complaint against Shockley with the school system on Dec. 12, 2007.

Shockley, Franklin, four students, and a teacher were interviewed during a two-day investigation. Shockley agreed to go on administrative leave on Dec. 14, 2007, and resigned earlier this month.

According to documents from the investigation, obtained through an open records request, Shockley initially told North Clayton administrators he had been moving some videos and photographs to a DVD for Franklin. He told administrators he did not take the photographs. He claimed the disc containing the photographs -- as well as some cash -- was stolen from his office shortly before the pictures began circulating among students.

The documents also show that Shockley recanted that statement during the school system's investigation. He admitted to taking the photographs after investigators found the pictures on his computer.

According to Clayton County Board of Education policies, which cover sexual harassment, the "display of sexually suggestive objects, pictures, cards or letters" is an example of prohibited conduct. One definition of sexual harassment, according to the policies, is behavior which "interferes with an employee's performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment."

The investigation documents do not say that Shockley showed the pictures to any one else. The student who downloaded the pictures onto his iPod, however, and showed them to classmates, could be in violation of the policies. School system officials have declined to discuss the scandal with the media.

The documents also allege that Shockley and Franklin were involved in a "consensual sexual relationship." Shockley allegedly initiated the relationship. The documents also say that the relationship lasted for less than one year, beginning in late 2006 and ending in the middle of the spring 2007 semester.

"Around November/December of last year, we would (Mrs. Franklin and I) go out after school functions and have a drink and conversation," Shockley said in a Dec. 14, 2007, statement for investigators. "It began as a close friendship, but we knew we were attracted to each other. Nothing really physical happen[ed] until our trip to Savannah ... Nothing ever happen[ed] at school ..."

In her statement to investigators, Franklin did not mention having a relationship with Shockley. She, at first, thought the pictures circulating around the school were of her in a hospital gown from when she gave birth to her daughter. The statement says she later believed the pictures may have been from "my anniversary celebration with my husband."

The investigators recommended a referral to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, and either a long-term suspension, or termination of employment for Shockley.

The investigation was not the first one Shockley faced in his tenure at North Clayton High School.

In 2003, he was involved in an altercation with the husband of a fellow teacher at the school. The husband allegedly believed his wife was having an affair with Shockley, and confronted the duo about it. The situation stemmed from e-mails being sent between Shockley and the unnamed teacher, referred to as "my beautiful T." in at least one correspondence, during school hours.

According to documents from that investigation, Shockley told investigators, "... our relationship was very flirtatious, but that was the extent of it ... I know that there are some things that I will have to change, and part of that is how I interact with some people. I can look you in the eye, and say that this will never occur again."

Then-Clayton County Superintendent Dan Colwell wrote a letter of reprimand to Shockley, telling the coach the use of school computers for anything other than work-related correspondence is "unacceptable." Colwell also told Shockley the behavior contradicted Standard 10 of the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, which says educators should behave in a way that follows "generally recognized professional standards."

In the letter, Colwell said, "I find this to be an inappropriate and unacceptable use of instructional time ... Please understand that, should there be continued unprofessional or unethical actions on your part, more stringent disciplinary actions may be taken. Those actions could include suspension and/or termination of your employment with the Clayton County School System."

The 2003 investigation was referenced in the report of the investigation into the relationship between Shockley and Franklin.

"Shockley had previously received a letter of reprimand, and informed that 'Any use of the school computer for other than professional communications is unacceptable,' " says the 2007 investigation report. "Shockley having these images on his computer represents a failure to adhere to a written directive, which constitutes insubordination."

Shockley was also investigated in 2004 on allegations he engaged in "inappropriate bodily contact with a female student" in a physical fitness class. An investigation, led by then-North Clayton Principal (and current Assistant Superintendent of High Schools) Derrick Manning, found "no intent [sexual or offensive] was intended. However, [Shockley] did not use sound judgment, considering interaction with female student."

A letter of caution, and reprimand was put in Shockley's personnel file.

Shockley could not be reached for comment for this article. Charles White, a spokesman for the school system, said he not could comment on the resignation because it is a "personnel matter." White also said North Clayton Principal Ray Hill is declining to comment on the matter.

Shockley was head coach at North Clayton from 1994 to 2007, and compiled an 82-66 record. His 82 victories put Shockley fourth on the all-time wins list in Clayton County. He guided the Eagles to two region championships, in 1997 and 2004.