The Coffee County School System is updating its previous press releases involving allegations of sexual misconduct and communication between students and a teacher, and the results of the school system’s investigation that culminated in the teacher’s resignation and arrest.
George Washington Carver Freshman Campus principal Abe Morris was notified in early February by a teacher that she overheard a conversation between students that a male teacher at the school had been making inappropriate comments and requesting nude photographs from female students. Mr. Morris, assistant principal Ms. Tammy Hill, school counselor Jessica Williams and Personnel Director Kim Clayton began a thorough investigation into the allegations. Coffee County School District personnel and the school system Chief of Police, Chris Elrod worked cooperatively to conclude the school system’s investigation.
The following timeline outlines the events leading up to the arrest:
February 3 – Mr. Abe Morris and Ms. Tammy Hill were notified verbally and in writing by a teacher, concerning the issue. Mr. Morris contacted Kim Clayton, who met personally with Mr. Morris about the matter and steps going forward concerning the investigation. Ms. Clayton immediately notified Dr. Leis.
February 4 – Mr. Morris and Ms. Hill met with Mr. Garrett first block. (He had been absent on February 3.) Mr. Garrett was sent home indefinitely pending an investigation. Mr. Morris notified Dr. Leis.
February 8 – Mr. Morris and Ms. Hill interviewed student from the reporting teacher’s class who was the most vocal.
Mr. Morris and Ms. Hill interviewed a student whose name was mentioned as being involved with Mr. Garrett.
Mr. Morris and Ms. Hill interviewed a second student whose name was mentioned.
Ms. Clayton met with Mr. Garrett along with Mr. Morris and Ms. Hill at the central office. Ms. Clayton told Mr. Garrett to not report to work until further notice. Sid Cottingham, school board attorney, was notified.
February 9 – Ms. Clayton was scheduled to interview the student involved but she did not attend school that day. Ms. Clayton met with Jessica Williams, the school counselor and apprised her of the situation. She and Ms. Hill planned to interview the student February 10, if she returned to school. Mr. Garrett retains counsel.
February 10 – Ms. Hill and Ms. Williams interviewed the student involved. Mr. Morris reported to Dr. Leis their findings recommending a DFCS and PSC Report. From the conversation, Dr. Leis informed Mr. Cottingham that a DFCS and PSC Report would be issued. Ms. Williams submitted a DFCS report concerning the issue that same day. Mr. Morris and Ms. Clayton spoke numerous times throughout the day.
February 14 – Student’s mother came to meet with Mr. Morris. Mr. Morris shared additional statements with Ms. Clayton.
Ms. Williams received a reply from DFCS via email on Monday evening, February 14 that the reported allegations did not meet the Georgia statute and DFCS policy requirements.
February 15 – Brant Garrett resigned.
February 17 – Chief Elrod called Ms. Clayton from home. Stated the local police department contacted him that one of the mothers had been to the police department asking about filing charges against the teacher.
February 18 – 21 – School system closed for Presidents Day weekend.
February 22 – The student involved went to Jessica Williams with concerns about her safety. Student also stated there had been a video that Mr. Garrett sent her in class. Ms. Clayton formally reported Mr. Garrett to the Professional Standards Commission. Dr. Leis and Chief Elrod learned that DFCS would not be investigating the allegations concerning Mr. Garrett.
Chief Elrod notified the District Attorney’s office about such allegations.
February 23 – Chief Elrod contacted the GBI and it immediately started an investigation.
February 24 – GBI continued interviews with students and Kim Clayton with Chief Elrod.
It is noted that during the above time period, (i) Ms. Clayton was out of the office February 4, 7, 10, and 11 due to the passing of her mother-in-law; (ii) Chief Elrod was out with COVID February 10 – 17; and (iii) Dr. Leis was out of the office February 16 – 21 attending the AASA National Conference.
Dr. Leis states that the safety of students in the Coffee County School System is our number one priority, and this includes making our schools free of any type of behavior that is harmful to students. With regard to the students affected, counseling will be offered where appropriate. We will also undertake and accomplish steps to ensure that there will be no recurrence and that all of our students are afforded a safe and wholesome environment that they deserve and their parents rightfully expect.
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