Dr. Trotter Writes To DeKalb's Superintedent

Crawford Lewis.

              

 [The names of the teacher, the principal, and the school have been changed.]           

   

                                                                                                        November 6, 2009

Dr. Crawford Lewis, Superintendent

DeKalb County School System

3770 North Decatur Road

Decatur, Georgia  30032

 

Dear Dr. Lewis:

 

   I am writing to you on behalf of one of our valued members and a thirty-one year veteran educator with the DeKalb County School System, Mrs. Jenni Love.  It appears that trumped-up and unwarranted charges have been made against Mrs. Jenni Love while she was serving in the After School Program at Tension Elementary School.  We met with Mrs. Jenni Love last week and she told us the story which resulted in her receiving an official reprimand from you and a one-day suspension without pay.  It is not the loss of one day’s pay which has Mrs. Jenni Love upset but the shoddy investigation (if I may call it an “investigation”) which resulted in this travesty of justice.

 

   Mrs. Jenni Love has for her entire tenure as an educator in DeKalb been an exemplary educator, always going the extra mile for her students and her school.  It appears that a kindergarten student was mad at her for his failing to receive candy for not following instructions in the After School Program.  This same student went home and evidently told his mother that Mrs. Jenni Love “tapped” (this word has been interchangeably used with “knocked” and “struck”) him on the head when he kept using the computer after he had been told repeatedly that his time on the computer was up.  This unsubstantiated claim of a five or six year old has resulted in Mrs. Jenni Love’s record being sullied at the end of her career.

 

   From talking to Mrs. Jenni Love and from reading through the rather voluminous file has caused me to conclude what the principal, Ms. Judy Smith, concluded:  “[N]ot enough evidence that she [Mrs. Jenni Love] committed this act” (in Ms. Smith’s memo to Jose G. Boza on May 4, 2009).  Mrs. Jenni Love categorically denies ever even touching the student.  Yet, Ms. McIver with the Office of Internal Resolution, apparently without even questioning Mrs. Jenni Love concerning the matter, made a recommendation to Ronald Ramsey that Mrs. Jenni Love be reprimanded by you, suspended for one day without pay, placed on a Professional Improvement Plan, and removed from the After School Program (the latter of which Mrs. Jenni Love would gladly consent).  An investigation without even questioning the accused?  How incredulous.  On May 26, 2009, Mrs. Jenni Love wrote a letter of concern to Mr. Ronald Ramsey, head of the Office of Internal Resolution, asking for an appointment to discuss her case.  She relates to me that to this day, she has not heard from Mr. Ramsey. 

 

   Ms. McIver apparently based her conclusion on hearsay from the Director of the After School Program who claims that Mrs. Jenni Love stated at the end of 30 minutes of explaining to the mother that she most certainly had not even touched her child that Mrs. Jenni Love stated:  “Since he said that I did, then I did.”  Mrs. Jenni Love states (and did so in her account written on the same day) unequivocally that she did not touch the kindergartner and never made such a ludicrous statement.  In fact, Mrs. Jenni Love states to me that the Director of the After School Program was rather distracted during the entire meeting that Mrs. Jenni Love had with the child and his mother.  The Director wrote to Principal Smith that the child “did not waiver in his account.”  Anyone who has been around school children long enough realizes that some children can offer up unmitigated lies without waivering.  As a former teacher and administrator, I have seen it happen on many occasions.  This is certainly not probative evidence in any sense.  The principal must have drawn the same conclusion because she determined “not enough evidence” – certainly not enough evidence to sully someone’s unblemished record with an unsubstantiated declaration from a five or six year old.  Ms. McIver erroneously concluded that “it appears more likely than not that Mrs. Love made inappropriate physical contact with [initials redacted]” (emphasis added).  So, now we are dealing with a civil standard and appearances, eh?  An allegation of this magnitude could theoretically lead to criminal charges of simple battery against this exemplary educator, and McIver makes a conclusion, apparently without even questioning the educator on the matter, based on appearances.  Balderdash.  This is bush league “investigation.”

 

   Mrs. Jenni Love did not offer to resign because of any remorse or guilt on her part; Mrs. Jenni Love wanted to quit working in the After School Program because of what she felt was an abject lack of professionalism.  To be slanderously and maliciously accused by a child who was apparently mad because he did not receive candy of tapping, knocking, or striking him in the head and then to be “convicted” of such a dastardly deed by the Office of Internal Resolutions without this department even questioning the accused  concerning the matter is unconscionable.  Is this what has become of “Premier” DeKalb County Schools?

 

   Dr. Lewis, I know that this past year and this year has probably put a strain on you and your staff (with the cheating scandals, the bullying allegations, the District Attorney’s apparent widespread investigation into the school system’s construction program, the recent forfeitures of the high school football games due to the use of ineligible players, etc.), but each employee of the school system deserves the right to be treated fairly.  Back in the Spring, I was representing a teacher at Clarkston High School who was prepared to testify about systematic cheating at Clarkston High School (and had a list of witnesses to testify also), but Mr. Ronald Ramsey just illegally shut down the grievance.  I thought that he was sworn, as a State Senator, to pass laws and uphold laws, not to break the law.  Just a short time after this grievance was shut down, the school system was suffering a major public relations blight because the allegations of cheating at other schools came to the fore.

 

   I am bringing to your attention another potentially embarrassing situation, a situation where the unsubstantiated allegation of a kindergartener was used to officially reprimand and suspend an educator who has been exemplary in her services to the children of DeKalb County for 31 years.  Mrs. Jenni Love just wants her record to be cleared of any wrong-doing because she was falsely charged of this simple battery.  We are asking your office to clear up her record so that she can retire in peace and with the solace of knowing that any false blemish on her record has been removed.

 

Sincerely:

  

                                  John R. Alston Trotter, EdD, JD

                  c.  Jenni Love

     School Board Members

     Ronald B. Ramsey

     J. Anderson Ramay, Esq.

                                                            

 

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