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Forest Park parents to voice school concerns

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

After a period of a little more than a week, with reports coming to light involving the resignation of one Forest Park High School educator and the suspension of another, parents of students at the school are scheduled to gather tonight to address their concerns to two members of the Clayton County Board of Education.

School board Chairperson Alieka Anderson said she and school board member Trinia Garrett are scheduled to meet with the parents tonight at Forest Park City Hall, which is located at 745 Forest Parkway, to hear some of their concerns about recent events at the school. Anderson said, however, that she and Garrett will not respond to questions about the school.

"I'm going to thank for them for concerns, and tell them they are welcome to come before the board to express any issues they have ... but Trinia and I are not going to respond to any questions because they are personnel matters," Anderson said.

Forest Park parent and meeting organizer, Shanda Ross, said the meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., but parents can begin showing up as early 6 p.m., to fill out questionnaires about their concerns. The questionnaires will be taken to school system area Assistant Superintendent Janice Davis, who oversees Forest Park High School, next week, Ross said.

"We just want an assurance that our kids are going to school in a safe environment," she said.

In just over a week, Forest Park High School has drawn concern from parents because of reports involving two of its teachers.

Last week, Clayton County Solicitor General Tasha Mosley filed a direct accusation of two counts of simple battery against former Forest Park Basketball Coach Lawrence McGraw, after a 16-year old female student reported that he grabbed her by the belt while they were in a concession stand at the school in early October. In that case, Mosley said there are "he-said, she-said" accounts as to whether McGraw grabbed the student's belt, or her arm before the student fell to the ground.

Also in October, another male teacher was suspended for 20 days without pay after an assistant principal caught a 17-year-old female student, and a 20-year-old graduate, having "intimate relations" in the teacher's classroom after school, school system Spokesman Charles White said.

White added that the teacher had been overseeing a drama club meeting, and asked all of the students, and the graduate, who was a volunteer, to leave the school. The teacher left after all of the students left his room, but the assistant principal found the two students in the classroom while checking to make sure everyone had left, White said.

He said a school system report on the incident does not specify how the student and former student ended up back in the classroom. The teacher was suspended for not making sure everyone had left the building before leaving himself, and he completed his suspension on Nov. 11, White said.