Claims against principal dropped
by Lindsay Field
May 02, 2013 12:24 AM | 5303 views | 20 20 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jeff Crawford
Jeff Crawford
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MARIETTA — Failure to report allegations against Awtrey Middle School Principal Jeff Crawford have been dismissed by the Cobb County School District.

“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.
Comments
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Rob Finlayson
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May 03, 2013
John needs to remember,

Honor matters. Integrity of principle matters. Doing the right thing matters. There are few that do and fewer still that support them.

He used to know that.
esiwasil
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May 13, 2013
I get your upset your related to Mrs. Finlayson it is pretty bold for you to post in your name my hat is off to you however you only know what your family member has told you.It looks like "she never knew" what your saying about this man. In the good old days if you couldn't do a job right you couldn't keep it.I have a family member that dealt first hand with yours and the other side of the story is different than what you say.I am glad charges are being dropped left and right please tell me you don't want innocent people in jail? That is what this is about not hurt pride or remarks about how well someone did their job or how poorly they didn't do their job this is about good people's name's being slammed and FALSE CHARGES on families not your family member losing her job or not. This is real and very serious issue.All of it is tragic so if you could just put yourself in the Educators shoes for one minute what you're going through is nothing compared to others. Lives have been destroyed.All of it is a big mess . Like we have asked , Now I ask you let all the facts come out and then we will see what happened and then everyone will know.Sad all ways.
Fedupwiththis!
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May 03, 2013
Once again the "good ole boy" system in Cobb County School protects one of its own. Hinojosa and his crew rally around a MALE principal who failed to report a 13 year old was raped, yet fire two female principals whose cases were much less egregious! I think a LARGE lawsuit is in order from Donovan and Dority! Make the county pay in cash for this obvious discriminatory behavior. Hinojosa must think this is still the 1950's!

The school board better wake up quick and find out why this case was dropped or they will be voted out quick!
anonymous
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May 03, 2013
The treatment of Donovan and Dority is horrid, but let's not forget that Crawford is innocent, as well. Appropriate steps were taken, the facts were very clear in this. The same witch hunt that caused problems for Donovan and Dority affected Crawford. They're all innocent. The problem here is much larger than the man in the group being vindicated before being forced to quit, while the women were forced to quit THEN vindicated. That's a problem for sure, but the larger issue is why this is even happening in all these cases where no wrong was done.
westcobb
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May 02, 2013
The sad thing is Mr. Crawford's reputation is damaged if not ruined. Who is paying for his attorney fees? Think how you would feel if your wrongly accused by your employer. Sad day.
fed up with ccsd
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May 02, 2013
"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."

Amen to that - maybe then arrogant principals like the one at Timber Ridge won't be able to have people fired based on her lies. Too many good people have lost their jobs at the hand of this tyrant!
Just Wait
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May 02, 2013
Maybe the CCSB should look more closely at the people they have hired to do their investigations. At this point, they certainly seem a bit over zealous.
HR Accountability?
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May 02, 2013
Crawford, Donovan, Dority, etc. When will someone in HR finally be held accountable for their role in all these messes?
Dr. Teresa
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May 03, 2013
We all should be demanding that this happen. Depend on central office employees to circle the wagons and protect their own (HR). The sad thing is the Board members will be the last to know the truth.Everyone will lie to them.
Change Needed
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May 02, 2013
In the wake of both this debacle and the mishandled Trudie Donovan case, it's time for a serious change to happen at 514 Glover St, and not just in terms of policy.
Thank Goodness
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May 02, 2013
Thank goodness that someone even higher up the chain finally decided to overrule some of the overzealous bureaucrats in the central office. Dr. Hinojosa would do well to view any future cases very skeptically.
Ffolks
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May 02, 2013
Really,

Hinojosa made the original decision. Wake up
Hurray!
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May 02, 2013
Congratulations, Mr. Crawford! You are a great principal and Awtrey is lucky to have you.
anonymous
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May 02, 2013
Has anyone done that psych profile of the people in HR yet?

How about your most basic background checks?

This is a backpedaling decision designed to take the spotlight off of this department, when in fact Mr. Scamihorn needs to keep inquiring on behalf of the board. Too many people have been maliciously targeted by this out of control dept.
Dr. Teresa
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May 03, 2013
Remember, I tried to blow the whistle on this department when they tried a snow job on the superintendent regarding a policy change the third month he was employed. The HR chief was then found to have given himself and others illegal pay raises. There were others in HR who needed to be fired over the policy change episode alone. If a teacher had lied to the board and superintnedent, the teacher would have been fired on the spot. Not so with an oh so protected person on the HR staff. Why is that?
DIID DIID
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May 02, 2013
If allegations such as these and the others recently lamented on the front pages of the MDJ were not made into such sensational front page news in the first place, perhaps the parents would not be outside Glover Street with their pitchforks and torches demanding immediate removal of the educators from the presence of their snowflakes.

Of course, if Glover Street did not immediately remove the educators based only on allegations, the MDJ would soon be running a "how could they take the risk of leaving this person with our snowflakes" editorial.

It seems if you are Glover St, you just can't win here in the local gossip column. They's dinged if they do, danged if they Dont
Devlin Adams
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May 02, 2013
Are you kidding me? These Glover Street clowns were on the verge of ruinng the careers of two educators, just to further their owne pathetic little careers.

This last one was so totally ridiculous. this guy was being persecuted for not reporting something that, by the time he ever knew about it, had already been proven to be something that never even happened.

If we make it a policy to persecute people for not reporting things that didn't happen, it opens up a real can of worms.

The people who need to be disciplined are the Glover Street folks who were investigating and pursuing this, when it should have been a non-issue form the beginning.
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