Officials await results of internal personnel investigation

Respond to alleged ‘sexual’ activity among kindergarners

JONESBORO — School officials continue to investigate whether there was negligence on the part of personnel at a school where allegations were reported of sexual activity among four kindergartners.

Clayton County Public Schools spokeswoman Vicki Gavalas would not say where specifically the alleged activity took place or when, but said the initial complaint was lodged at James A. Jackson Elementary in Jonesboro.

“It was on campus during the school day,” she said. “It was inappropriate activity of a sexual nature.”

Gavalas described the alleged activities as “child on child.”

Clayton News Daily reached out to confirm whether Clayton County Department of Family and Children Services was investigating the families involved in the case or any like it . But officials declined comment due to confidentiality.

“The agency cannot confirm if we have a case open or not with a family,” said DFCS County Director Andre Chambers.

Gavalas said district investigators are working through the personnel case swiftly but tediously to determine whether school staff was negligent in allowing the alleged activity to occur and whether they acted appropriately throughout the ordeal.

“A student brought it to the attention of staff members,” said Gavalas. “Once the allegations were made, the district initiated a personnel investigation.”

Gavalas pointed to the district’s process of dealing with allegations and complaints.

The complaint resolution process is listed in this year’s student handbook.

The complaint policy includes a chart that begins the process with parents meeting with the principal, then with the area superintendent, and then with district administration before appealing to the superintendent for resolution.

The handbook also states that any school employee in reasonable belief that a student has committed infractions, including aggravated battery and sexual offenses, at a school or school function must immediately report the act and the student’s name to the principal or principal designee.

In turn, that principal or principal designee, believing the report is valid, must make an oral report immediately to the superintendent, police and district attorney.

Teachers are given the authority to remove students where the student’s behavior is in violation of the student code of conduct, according to the handbook, provided the teacher has previously filed a report or determines the behavior poses an immediate threat to the safety of the teacher or other students.

Gavalas said an investigation is part of that process. It is designed to determine if there was negligence on the part of staff and others charged with monitoring students.

“Our concern is with the safety and welfare of our children and staff,” said Gavalas. “We will do everything possible and everything necessary to assure that our children are in a safe environment conducive to learning.”

She said the incident is still under investigation.

“We’ll take appropriate action through the findings of the investigation,” said Gavalas, reiterating the “appropriate agencies were called regarding the welfare of the children involved and independent of the district’s personnel investigation.”

She urges parents to report such on-campus a incidents to school officials by using the process outlined in the student handbook.