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BOE wants new fraternization policy

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

The Clayton County Board of Education, and Interim Superintendent Gloria Duncan, want new fraternization policies in the wake of an affair that led to the resignations of an assistant principal and a high school football coach.

They are also going to review the policy governing how district equipment, such as computers, is used.

The recent departures of Josette Franklin, North Clayton High's assistant principal, and its head football coach, Donald Shockley, have district leaders looking at the creation of new board policies.

Shockley and Franklin allegedly had a brief, intimate relationship in early 2007. Shockley also allegedly took pictures of Franklin in her lingerie in a Savannah hotel room, and kept them on his laptop computer. A student, who was repairing Shockley's computer, found the pictures, downloaded them onto an iPod, and showed them to classmates.

Ericka Davis, the board's chairperson, said the scandal involving Shockley and Franklin is not the sole reason the district's leadership wants policy changes.

"I would venture to say there are multiple instances where this happened," Davis said.

There have been three recent occurrences, similar to the Shockley and Franklin case, the school system's compliance officer is aware of, acknowledged school district spokesman Charles White. He said he could not comment further on those cases because of personnel reasons.

No one ever mentioned Shockley or Franklin, by name, but there were references to what occurred between the pair during the school board's work session Monday.

Davis, and board member Michelle Strong, asked Chief Operations Officer Steve Holmes how a student could gain access to a teacher's computer. Holmes told them the computers are password encrypted. An educator would have to give the password to the pupil. He was also asked how often students are allowed to do repair work on a teacher's computer.

"We have no students working on computers, other than students who work for us during the summer," Holmes said.

The incident involving Shockley, a 23 year-veteran of Clayton County schools, was not his first time being caught while allegedly misusing school system computer equipment. In 2003, Shockley was reprimanded for using his district e-mail address to flirt with another North Clayton teacher, whom he referred to as "My beautiful T.," in at least one e-mail.

According to documents obtained from the school system, Shockley allegedly asked the teacher, in another e-mail, to let him "take [her] away for awhile ... Just holding, talking and maybe a little play and laughter ..."

District officials also agreed to look at the school system's Internet-use policy, to see how it can be strengthened to discourage future instances of employees misusing district property. The report on the relationship between Shockley and Franklin accused the former coach of "insubordination" because he was told, following the 2003 investigation, to not use his computer for anything other than "professional communication."

On Monday, some board members and administrators offered their own views on the situation.

"People need to use common sense," said board member, Eddie White.

"You know, Mr. White, someone once told me common sense isn't all that common," replied Jackie Hubbert, the assistant superintendent for human resources.

Hubbert said her department gives a DVD on appropriate employee behavior to each school in the district at the beginning of every academic year. She said it is up to each principal to decide how those DVDs will be shown to faculty and staff members, though.

"I think we're going to have to increase the exposure of the DVDs," Hubbert said.