“We are relieved and pleased to hear that common sense has prevailed and that the matter is being dismissed,” said Crawford’s attorney, Justin O’Dell. “Mr. Crawford is looking forward to preparing for the end of the school year and the school year to come. He is happy to be rid of this distraction and able to focus entirely on education.”
O’Dell said he received a phone call from the district attorney Tuesday about the dismissal.
Crawford, a 21-year educator with 14 years of experience as an administrator, was accused of incompetency, insubordination and willful neglect of duties for failure to report a female student’s allegation of rape.
The school district also faulted Crawford for not returning to school on Jan. 18 following a meeting regarding the accusations.
Crawford was scheduled to appear at a hearing for his appeal against his suspension of one day without pay in two weeks.
Cobb Schools spokesman Jay Dillon said the hearing for Crawford has been canceled, but declined to confirm whether the allegations have been dismissed.
O’Dell said he hopes the school district has learned something from this mistake.
“I am hopeful that this dismissal is the first step by the school district on a path to changing the entire process of investigating and charging educators in order to avoid others having to go through a situation like Mr. Crawford,” O’Dell said.
Cobb School Board Chair Randy Scamihorn said he had not been briefed on the dismissal or hearing cancellation, but said that anytime an employee is given another chance, it is a good thing.
He also spoke on what Cobb Schools is doing in reference to future mandatory reporting problems.
“We are in the process of reviewing the procedures,” he said. “I’ve been patient because these things sometimes become complex, and the district may need time to work through changes and the ramifications of any changes.”
Three employees lost their jobs on similar allegations last school year. They were also criminally charged and the Solicitor General’s Office dropped charges against one of them earlier this year.
Directors with two of Cobb County’s professional teachers’ organizations say they are pleased with the district’s decision.
“We are absolutely thrilled by this development and that a veteran educator who didn’t do anything wrong has been cleared and won’t be facing the suspension,” said John Adams with Educators First.
“We’re glad that someone in the central office finally decided to take a look at this case and do the right thing,” he said. “I hope, as the result of this case and what comes out of this, going forward human resources and the district will treat employees much better and employees will truly be viewed as innocent until proven guilty.”
In the future, Adams said he also believes the district needs to take a harder look at how it handles not only mandated reporting cases but employee discipline and personnel investigations in general.
He learned about the dismissal Wednesday.
Connie Jackson with the Cobb County Association of Educators agreed with Adams.
“I think that teachers and staff have been careful not to violate the failure to report law, and I think that because it has been so widely publicized, there might have been a rush to judgment, and I’m glad to see that the district took time to step back and fully assess the situation,” she said.
Like Adams, she hopes the district will do more research before making allegations.
“I think my members will be glad to see that the district is taking a more thoughtful approach to handling discipline because we have always encouraged more time to investigate charges before they are brought,” Jackson said.