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Alleged porn charges dropped against BOE’s Garrett

Photo by Curt Yeomans
Attorney Robert Mack (left) talks to Clayton County School Board Member Trinia Garrett during a break in a school board hearing to review allegations that she downloaded pornographic materials onto a district-issued computer.

Photo by Curt Yeomans Attorney Robert Mack (left) talks to Clayton County School Board Member Trinia Garrett during a break in a school board hearing to review allegations that she downloaded pornographic materials onto a district-issued computer.

After a two-hour debate, the Clayton County Board of Education failed to find that Board Member Trinia Garrett violated Georgia’s BCA/Model Ethics Code, during a hearing Monday night.

The Model Ethics Code states that no board of education member can take private action that will compromise the board or school system administration.

In a 5-2 vote –– allegations that Garrett allegedly downloaded adult pornography from more than 60 web sites, on her district issued computer –– were dropped. With only five votes to proceed with the charges, the action against Garrett failed, because six affirmative votes were needed to move forward with a finding that she had violated the ethics policy.

“I’m just so happy it’s over,” said an elated Garrett. “Now, we can [put] our focus back on the children.”

According to Garret’s attorney, Robert Mack, the school board lacked sufficient evidence, in the first place, to even hold a hearing against his client.

“Justice was served in spite of the lack of due process,” said Mack. He added that it was “unjust” for the board of education to act as the judge, jury, and the accuser in the case against Garrett. “It’s not fair, and it violates her [Garrett’s] right’s. The board should not be administering her hearing,” he said.

According to Glenn Brock, attorney for the school district, the vote failed because there must be six school board members for the majority, in order for a vote to pass. This is known as a super vote, he said.

In the case against Garrett, Board Member Michael King removed himself from the proceedings, citing concerns that the board was violating certain legal procedures. Garrett also did not participate in the vote, due to an apparent conflict of interest.

Board Members Charlton Bivins and Jessie Goree voted in favor of Garrett, which left the panel one vote shy of finding that Garrett had violated the policy.

During the hearing, Monday night, Brock called a private investigator, Jim Persinger, of PM Investigations Inc., to testify on behalf of the school board.

Persinger said the discovery of the pornographic material on Garrett’s computer stemmed from an earlier investigation that was launched in an effort to try to discover the source of rumors being circulated about an alleged affair between Clayton County School Superintendent Edmond Heatley and a female, school administrative employee.

Persinger said the initial investigation called for the school district’s equipment to be examined, including computers and cell phones.

During the examination of the computers, Persinger told the board, he retrieved 400 adult pornographic photos, and Rap music downloads from itunes, off Garrett’s computer.

“These downloads were intentional and not accidental,” said Persinger, during his testimony. He said, in order to access Garrett’s computer and the Internet, a person would have to have her user name and password.

Garrett, however, said she was innocent, and did not download the pornography on her computer. She said she was unaware of who might be responsible.

Persinger said, if Garrett, did in fact, log into her computer, stayed logged in, and left her computer unattended, it would be possible for someone other than Garrett to have access to her computer.

“But why would you not log out of your computer?” he asked reporters after his testimony.

“The evidence in this case was lacking, and this was a flawed process,” said Garrett’s attorney, Robert Mack. According to Mack, Garrett was the first official in Georgia to be charged under the state’s new BCA/Model Code of Ethics.

Board Member Jessie Goree said, after the hearing, that the school board does not have proper procedures in place. “We need to improve upon parliamentary process,” she said.

Comments

OscarKnight 2 years, 7 months ago

...One Question : .....If the Porn had been "Child Pornography", would it be handled any differently ?

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BlackCat 2 years, 7 months ago

Why should it be handled if differently? She said she didn't do it so if they believed her, they would believe her if she murdered someone and said that she didn't do it.

That is just what is wrong with the Atlanta Area School Systems. Too many on the BOE that are probably as bad or worse than she is and she probably has something on them all.

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Claytonside 2 years, 7 months ago

Black cat should we believe the compuer investigator when he said his evidence proves the material was on her computer but could not say she put it on there... Furthermore he said that her computer could have been used by others that came behind her.... hint hint teenage boys ....

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Claytonside 2 years, 7 months ago

Please believe I don't sponsor porn and or porn on public property but I do believe in acting on FACTS...... and reasonable punishment. as it stands she wont even be dealt with for violating internet rules or equipment policy..

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Claytonside 2 years, 7 months ago

Yeah man!!!!!! Child pornography is a crime.. The BOE wouldn't even be involved it would be the DA and or police!

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OscarKnight 2 years, 7 months ago

....I'm Sorry; This Decision is Not Good Enough For Our Children !!!!

....Requesting another investigation, to have the mother boards, on every computer used by members of The BOE, might have far different results !!!

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