Principal fighting claims in alleged rape case
by Lindsay Field
April 06, 2013 12:18 AM | 11340 views | 20 20 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jeff Crawford
Jeff Crawford
slideshow
Awtrey Middle School principal Jeff Crawford is fighting Cobb Schools over an allegation that he failed to report an incident involving a student whom district investigators say was raped.

The incident involved two seventh-grade students, a boy and a girl, in which the girl allegedly was raped while she was at her home, according to public records obtained by the Marietta Daily Journal.

Crawford, a 21-year educator with 14 years of experience as an administrator, is accused of incompetency, insubordination and willful neglect of duties for failure to report a female student’s allegation of rape.

The school district also faults Crawford for not returning to school on Jan. 18 following a meeting regarding the accusations.

Awtrey counselor Cynthia Zell and assistant principal Anita Evans were initially investigated but district spokesman Jay Dillon said the resolution of Evans’ case depends on Crawford’s hearing in May and Zell has been cleared.

The district investigation was handled by Mary Finlayson and Jay Morrissey.

Dillon said the district does not comment on personnel matters.

Shortly after the mid-January meeting about the charges, Crawford contacted Marietta attorneys Justin O’Dell and Leslie O’Neal.

“Mr. Crawford’s involvement in this situation was virtually non-existent,” O’Dell said. “It is clear, based on the limited amount of information presented to him, that this was not a mandatory report situation.”

According to investigation notes acquired through the Journal’s Open Records Request, a female student at Awtrey was upset during a school dance. Two of her friends asked what was wrong, and the word “rape” came up.

The girls told Zell about the accusations, and then both Zell and Evans had a meeting with the student and learned that there was never a rape, but she was upset about a touching incident with another boy at her home.

The counselor and assistant principal spoke with the child’s mother, referred her to a therapist with Success for all Students and the situation was thought to be resolved.

The therapist contacted the Department of Family and Children Services in December to file a report, and Kennesaw Police investigated but found no crime had been committed.

The incident was believed to be resolved.

For unknown reasons, Crawford was called into Area Assistant Superintendent Jim Carter’s office in early January and asked about the “rape,” told him he would receive a day of suspension without pay and was given 48 hours to request a hearing.

“CCSD brought charges based on facts that do not exist and are not supported by any of the witness interviews,” O’Dell said. “It is disappointing that CCSD officials have continued to misrepresent this situation as an ‘alleged rape involving two students’ when all of the interviews confirm that this student never made any such allegation.”

O’Dell argues that the district’s entire investigation has been suspect.

“They have conducted interviews, which went unrecorded or in which the recorder mysteriously stopped,” he said. “They have knowingly withheld critical evidence from me on more than one occasion. They have made false statements about the evidence, the law and policies to witnesses in the course of interviews in order to get them to accept blame and punishment.”

Because of the district’s failure to hand over specific investigation materials, the mid-March tribunal has been rescheduled for May 14.

O’Dell said they are appealing the facts the district based its charges on because they don’t believe they are accurate and don’t follow state law or system policies.

“Mr. Crawford is overwhelmingly concerned about the manner in which the investigation was conducted and the amount of evidence that was misrepresented and withheld,” O’Dell said.

Crawford said he believes it’s important that the issues are brought to light because other educators are facing similar situations within the school district.

“If something is not done to change the process, educators will continue to be falsely accused and improperly punished,” he said.

John Adams with Educators First, an organization that represents district employees, agrees.

“Teachers and administrators continue to be very much on edge because of the ever-changing polices and procedures on mandatory reporting,” Adams said. “They continue to be concerned that they could be thrown under the bus.”

Last school year Kell High School principal Trudie Donovan resigned after the district brought forth accusations that she failed to file a mandatory report within 24 hours, and a few months before that, the board approved the firing of both Tapp Middle School principal Dr. Jerry Dority and counselor Yatta Collins for similar allegations.

Timeline of events that led to charges by

Cobb Schools, based on Crawford investigation file


Oct. 30, 2012: Two Awtrey students are told by a student that she was raped.

Oct. 31, 2012: Zell is told by two students that a student was raped.

• Zell tells Evans, who tells Crawford.

• Evans and Zell meet with the student and learn that the alleged rape related to an incident from 2008, but that she was upset Oct. 30 because she was uncomfortable with a boy at school who touched her inappropriately at her home.

• The student’s mother is told of the incident involving the touching by a boy and is informed of options regarding contacting police, but she said she would go home and talk to her husband about incident.

Nov. 1, 2012: Evans and Zell contact Success For All Students therapist Megan Allen about the incident.

• Evans lets Crawford know about the outcome regarding the mother’s visit and referral to therapist.

Dec. 7, 2012: Allen meets with the student’s mother and learns about the alleged incident.

Dec. 11, 2012: Allen calls DFCS to see if a referral had been made. She was told no and to contact Crimes Against Children to learn that a referral had not been made.

• Evans calls Allen to ask about referral to CAC.

• Evans calls DFCS to make a referral but was told that a report was not necessary since the alleged sexual abuse did not involve a family member.

• Evans calls student’s mother angry because the mother had not called police.

Dec. 14, 2012: Evans called Allen and told her that she called DFCS and was told that a report wasn’t necessary.

Jan. 11: Cobb Schools Investigator Jay Morrissey and Cobb Schools Public Safety Officer Randy Rogers interview Allen.

Jan. 17: Morrissey and Rogers interview the student and her mother.

• Morrissey interviews Zell and Evans.

Jan. 18: Morrissey, Cobb Schools Professional Standards and Ethics Director Mary Finlayson and Area Assistant Superintendent James Carter interview Crawford.

• Morrissey interviews Zell and Evans again.

Jan. 22: Morrissey and Finlayson interview the student’s mother.

• Finlayson interviews student.

Jan. 28: Morrissey confirms with a detective from Kennesaw Police that she had interviewed the student.

• Rogers tells Finlayson and Morrissey that the Cobb Solicitor General’s Office confirmed that Crawford, Zell and Evans all violated the mandatory reporting law.

March 1: Crawford receives a letter from Hinojosa advising him of a one-day suspension and charges.

Comments
(20)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
necobbmom
|
April 08, 2013
Teachers of Cobb county, be forewarned that there is a psycho in the CCSD who is on a witch hunt. No teacher is safe...look at the past few months where teachers are being accused in the MDJ with one side of the story. I would not be a teacher in this district if it was my last resort. No one is safe, not even administrators with 20 plus years. Someone needs to take heed regarding the powers that be in the district office. Nepotism, cronyism, people who have been dismissed from other jobs for reasons "unknown".. Scary.
anonymous
|
April 08, 2013
did Hinojosa take a suspension in pay due to signing an illegal contract? Remind me of a story about a goose and gander and something good....

awtrey parent
|
April 08, 2013
So what reporting procedure did they violate?? I am confused. They reported the incident that happened OFF school grounds to everyone under the sun! This is ridiculous. Mr. Crawford is an EXCELLENT principal with innovative teaching ideas.. wait.. maybe THAT is what the problem is. Yup. Witch hunt.
Why!
|
April 07, 2013
Why is the school board doing this? There was not a "rape", supposedly, and if the parents or girl did not report this to the police, then how can administrators be held accountable? Mr. Crawford is a decent Christian individual and is always concerned about student's success and well-being. He is at every performance and devotes time and energy to our kids. He is truly the "best" of the best, here in Cobb.
Mike in North Cobb
|
April 07, 2013
This will be a great chance for the public to find out who is the real boss; the Board of Ed or the lackluster Superintendent.

I think most people would feel sick to their stomach, when they are falsely being charged with keeping a child's alleged rape a secret. I too would have gone home.

Prediction: This is going to end up being a P.R. nightmare, no matter who prevails.

Dusty Roads
|
April 07, 2013
D.A. King surely would not consider this a problem unless the principal was an Illegal. On the other hand, were the allegedly raped student an Illegal, would D.A.'s Inman Society give the prinicpal an award?
Cobb resident
|
April 07, 2013
Anyone that knows Jeffrey Crawford and Anita Evans knows these two people are the most professional, kind, and caring administrators not just in Cobb, but possibly the state of Georgia. Hinojosa is a bully. When are the citizens of Cobb and the CCSB going to recognize this and send him packing?
Be Careful
|
April 06, 2013
Whatever happened, happened OFF school property. Not a school matter. PERIOD!!!
more attorneys fees
|
April 06, 2013
If the board votes to let him keep his job HR will just go to the PSC to get his certificate revoked so they can get rid of him that way. Double jeopardy anywhere else, standard operating procedure for Cobb schools.
So.....
|
April 06, 2013
The situation is unfortunate, however, the principal is well out of any loop here. Is this a witch hunt? Is this Hinojosa playing to the crowd?
concerned citizen
|
April 06, 2013
This is ridiculous!
anonymous
|
April 06, 2013
All you need to write here is that Mary Finlayson was in the middle of this whole, sad story.

The woman has a long, lengthy history of persecuting Cobb employees and someone needs to look into the reason she was removed from her former job with the county child protective services and ask why she was promoted to her current public position. Vindictive public employees making these judgements can harm so many people, but more importantly, they are abusing taxpayers money and any fiduciary duty they have as public servants. They hide behind the bureaucracy and do untold damage. Keep on requesting Ms. Finlayson's public records and you will get to the bottom of all of this.
anonymous
|
April 06, 2013
It is clear Crawford is being railroaded by he idiots that run the Cobb County school system.

I am sure I would not have returned to the school after that meeting with the idiots. I can only imagine what nasty, untrue nonsense those idiots at central office were spewing.

The idiots that run these Cobb government schools believe someone has got to be crucified anytime something (may or may not) happens that some other idiot suggests might have been against the rules. Once these great minds launch an investigation, someone has got to be found a fault. And no fault can go unpunished by the most severe manner possible.

It is the mindset of the government worker. Senseless. Illogical. Unproductive. Wasteful of taxpayer money.

Good luck Mr. Crawford. May you tear the hide from their backsides.
Daveyy
|
April 06, 2013
Am I missing something here? This is something that did not happen on school grounds and was not perpetrated by a school employee. The mother was notified, DFACS was notified, CAC was notified, all by school employees. The school did everything but notify the police and then send out a lynch mob to get the boy. Sounds like CCSD is taking the lead on in the CYA dance and offering up a sacrificial lamb before things get bad for them.
Are you kidding me?
|
April 06, 2013
Since the girl was never raped, and since the other employees handled the matter correctly, then why the heck is Crawford being suspended? Sounds like he's just being used as a 'scapegoat'
Hope He Wins
|
April 06, 2013
I hope Mr. Crawford wins. He is a hero to all of us for standing up for what is right. Good luck to him!
Witch Hunt
|
April 06, 2013
Yet another example of a CCSD witch hunt! Congratulations to Crawford for having the guts to stand up against the central office.
thoroughlydisgusted
|
April 06, 2013
This is the most upsetting and unbelievable thing I've read in a long time. CCSD is an embarrassment and I hope Mr. Crawford as well as Ms. Evan and Zell find the best attorneys money can buy and sue the hell out of the district.

God help all the students and employees under this regime.

anonymous
|
April 07, 2013
Mr. Crawford is a great administrator, always concerned about students and would never have dropped the ball on something credible that was brought to him. It is so unfortunate that he has to go through something like this. It is unfornuate that Cobb County is not supporting a faithful employee who has given so much!
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, and spam will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides