State report finds misconduct in city schools

The details of an investigation by the State Department of Education of the Selma City School System were unveiled Wednesday, and many of the findings show a number of serious problems within the system.

The investigation, which was initially launched in June in response to numerous allegations of sexual misconduct within the Selma City School System, did find evidence of sexual misconduct, along with other violations.

The report was officially delivered to members of the Selma City School Board, the board’s attorney Katy Campbell and Superintendent of Education Gerald Shirley in late September and a meeting with state officials, investigators and school system officials was held earlier this month to go over the findings.

Shirley did not respond to a list of email questions about the report and board president Henry Hicks Sr. declined to comment when contacted Wednesday by the Times-Journal.

According to a letter the State Superintendent of Education Dr. Thomas Bice, sent to Shirley regarding the report, the investigation revealed “evidence of on noncompliance with requirements, standards and protocols governing instructional activities, standardized testing, graduation requirements and other state and federal guidelines.”

In interviewing current and former employees and students, the investigation discovered the sexual misconduct ranged from vulgar language and dance routines to potential criminal activity. The report stated a female teacher allegedly required students to perform sexually charged dance routines for groups of males at school.

The report mentions conduct of racial insensitivity among the staff. A former school administrator referred to Caucasian employees as “white employees” in a demeaning way, according to the report. That administrator has since taken another position within the school system.

“There were definitely some findings that need to be addressed,” Campbell said.

Campbell said the system’s response, which will initially be drafted by the system administration and then approved by the board, will be sent to the state by the 21-work day deadline. Ahead of the response being sent to the state though, Campbell said the board would need to have a specially called public meeting to approve the response.

The response will likely include a detailed description of corrective measures the board and the school system have taken or are prepared to take to eliminate the deficiencies described in the investigation.

The state investigation was announced in June after a call for an independent investigation by Hicks was voted down by a majority of the Selma City School Board. Hicks and board member Dr. Udo Ufomadu voted for the independent investigation, while board members Frank Chestnut Jr., Brenda Obomanu and Dr. Kirit Chapatwala voted against.

The Alabama Department of Education released the preliminary a report of an investigation into the Selma City School System on Wednesday. The investigation was conducted in response to concerns on reports of sexual misconduct within the system.

According to letter addressed to Superintendent Gerald Shirley, the investigation led to evidence of “noncompliance with requirements, standards, and protocols governing instructional activities standardized testing, graduation requirements and other state and federal guidelines.”

The Alabama Department of Education found that the Selma City High School: failed to adequately report and investigate allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior, failed to follow and enforce state and local policies regarding graduation requirements and the awarding of academic course credit, failed to follow state polices regarding standardized testing procedures, has a disregard for instructional time, school lunch program requirement, and financial accounting guidelines. The report also mentioned that at least one supervisory employee has conducted their self in a way that reflects racial insensitivity.

According to the letter, dated Sept. 25, the Selma City School System was given 21 days to submit a formal response to the Alabama Department of Education.

More immediate corrective action may be required to address some of the issues found through investigation, according to the report.