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.