Photo by Heather Middleton
By Curt Yeomans
The man responsible for overseeing the safety of more than 50,000 pupils in Clayton County Public Schools, is no longer holding that job, a school system spokesman has confirmed.
School system spokesman Charles White would not say whether John Taylor Walker, Jr., resigned, or if he was fired from his position as the district's director of investigations and student engagement, after he pleaded guilty recently, to attempting to bribe a Clayton County Magistrate Judge. White did say, however, that Walker is no longer employed by the district, where he has worked since 2006.
Last Thursday, Walker pleaded guilty to bribing Clayton County Magistrate Court Judge Daphne Walker (no relation), by offering her a campaign contribution in November 2009. He was trying to influence her decision in the selection of a vendor for the county's Superior, State and Magistrate courts. A security company that employed John Walker, was bidding for the contract.
"All I can tell you is what I've been told to tell you, and that is John Walker is no longer employed by the school system ... as of Monday, Feb. 7, 2011," school system spokesman White said.
Also following last week's guilty plea, John Walker stepped down from his position as a member of the Clayton County Housing Authority's Board of Commissioners on Monday, according to that board's Chairman, James Searcy.
Searcy said that Walker turned in a one-sentence resignation letter on Monday afternoon. It did not include a reason for the resignation, he said.
John Walker and his attorney, Denise Allen, could not be reached for comment, on Tuesday.
Searcy said there had been an ongoing push for months, within the housing group, to get John Walker to step down, after his indictment for bribery came to light in early December.
Searcy said housing officials learned of the indictment, not from Walker, but through media reports about the indictment on Oct. 20, 2010.
Similarly, school system spokesman Charles White said in early December, the school system was unaware of Walker's work with the private security company, until he was indicted.
"It certainly casts him in a negative light, as being a commissioner of a housing authority that is dealing with a lot of public trust," James Searcy said.
Searcy said John Walker remained "defiant" towards calls for him to leave the board, until Monday, when the "pressure was stepped up."
John Walker was sentenced by Clayton County Superior Court Judge Matthew O. Simmons to serve five years on probation, and to pay a $750 fine, after he pleaded guilty to the bribery charge.
In a written statement released last Friday, Judge Daphne Walker said John Walker is "being held publicly accountable for his improper conduct." She said she hopes his guilty plea dissuades people from trying to bribe elected officials in the future.
"It is my sincere hope that his arrest, and conviction, has sent a clear message that no one should attempt to improperly solicit, or influence, an elected official, especially a judge," Judge Walker said. "If they choose to do so, their actions will have criminal consequences."