0

Clayton Schools security chief facing bribery charge

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

The man tasked with ensuring the safety of more than 50,000 Clayton County school students is still on the job, despite facing allegations that he attempted to bribe a judge last year, a school system spokesman has said.

John Taylor Walker, Jr., the district's director of investigations and student engagement, was indicted on Oct. 20, on a felony charge of bribery. He allegedly attempted to bribe a Clayton County Magistrate Court judge, according to a copy of the indictment. The document shows that he was allegedly trying to influence her decision on the selection of a vendor that would work Clayton County's Superior, State and Magistrate courts.

As of Wednesday, Walker's employment status with Clayton County Public Schools had not changed as a result of the indictment, said School System Spokesman Charles White. White said the district will not deal with Walker's employment until his court case is resolved.

"He's still working," said White. He later added, "The district does not take action in these types of circumstances, until the case has been adjudicated."

Walker is scheduled to appear in Clayton County Superior Court, on Monday, at 9 a.m., for an arraignment hearing before Superior Court Judge Matthew O. Simmons, according to online court records.

Walker's attorney, Denise Allen, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Clayton County Chief Assistant District Attorney Erman Tanjuatco said John Walker was working -- outside of his school system duties -- as a "liaison" for Lawrenceville-based Southeast Corrections, LLC, in November 2009, when he allegedly attempted to bribe Clayton County Magistrate Judge Daphne Walker (no relation).

Judge Walker was a "member of the selection committee for the request for proposal process, evaluating contracts between potential vendors and Superior, State and Magistrate courts of Clayton County," according to the indictment against John Walker. Tanjuatco said the contract was for a probation monitoring company for the courts, and Southeast Corrections was one of the companies seeking that contract.

The prosecutor said he could not divulge any further details of the case, because it is still being prosecuted.

The indictment against John Walker shows he allegedly offered a campaign contribution to the judge, in an attempt to influence her decision on which company should get the probation monitoring contract. The indictment does not specify how much of a campaign contribution John Walker offered the judge.

It was not immediately clear on Wednesday to whom the probation monitoring contract was eventually awarded.

Daphne Walker was re-elected -- without opposition -- to a second term as the county's chief magistrate judge in 2008, according to online elections records from the Clayton County Board of Elections and Registration's web site. Her seat is not scheduled to be up for re-election again until 2012.

John Walker was booked into the Clayton County Jail after his indictment, but was released from custody early last month, an official at the jail said on Wednesday. The official said she could not release information on why he was released from custody, citing that she was not authorized to give out that information.

Charles White said John Walker came to the district in 2006 as the school system's director of school safety. Shortly after he arrived in the district, he worked on a "blue-ribbon commission" that studied student discipline and safety issues for the school system.

He essentially still does the same duties, overseeing school security, although his position's name was changed earlier this year during a district-wide reorganization of the school system's administrative structure, according to White.

"His job is to ensure the safety and security of the district's students, faculty and staff at all times," White said. He said the security chief's job covers a wide area of duties, although one of them is to work law enforcement personnel who work as school resource officers.

White added, however, that he could not comment further on John Walker's employment, because "even though the school system is not directly involved, it's still a personnel issue."