• DeKalb DA: Grand jury investigation of school board not needed

    By: Jodie Fleischer

    Updated:

    DEKALB COUNTY, Ga.,None - DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James says he will not convene a special grand jury to investigate the school board, despite a former grand jury's request for him to do so.

    In December, Channel 2 investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer broke the story of a former grand jury's scathing report alleging inappropriate and possibly criminal actions by school board members.

    "I think these are things the school district can take care of themselves, as long as someone is watching, making sure they're making the appropriate progress," said James.

    James added that he takes the former grand jury's concerns very seriously, but he feels like the school board members were already well on their way to fixing the problems internally.

    "I am not the school system police officer or school system czar. It's the board's job to police themselves. The only thing the grand jury wanted to do and I wanted to do is to make sure that they're doing that appropriately," James said.

    James said he's had extensive conversations with the current and former school board chairmen. They are already working to approve a policy demanding immediate investigation and punishment for any suspected information leaks by school board members.

    The former grand jury cited that as a hindrance in the search for a new school superintendent.


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    "We concluded that it didn't hurt us. But the thought of the public thinking that it did is the damage I'm trying to guard against," said School Board Chairman Eugene Walker. "Leaks will not be tolerated, and if there are, then at that moment we're going to launch an investigation."

    "Consequences deter, and without a deterrent, individuals do whatever they feel like, be it ethical or not," added James.

    Walker said past practices of double dipping and nepotism will also be reined in, and outside employment by district officials will require preapproval.

    Vendors will also have to disclose any district employees working for them.

    The district attorney did say he found no laws broken with regard to spending of SPLOST money, but the grand jurors' concerns will trigger a policy change regarding that too.

    "What we've done is to put in place some safeguards that are transparent and open," Walker said.

    He said he and other school district leaders have also agreed to report to all future grand juries whenever asked.

    The district attorney said he does have the option to convene a special grand jury in the future if he feels the school district is getting off track or not following the new policies it's creating.

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