Principal Let Abuse of Students Go Unchecked

ALPHARETTA, Ga. — No charges were ever filed against a Hopewell Middle School teacher or the then-principal for the abuse of special-needs students, according to recently released court documents. An investigation found that staff had reported the abuse, but the principal failed to act on it.

Alex Williams, a student with cerebral palsy, was routinely abused by teacher Melanie Pickens between 2006 and 2007, according to court documents. Another student, Jake Marshall, was found by a teacher alone in a room strapped to a chair and covered in his own feces, CNN reports. The teacher reported the incident, which forced a formal investigation commissioned by the Fulton County School District.

BDI, an outside investigation firm, found that many teachers and school nurses had verbally reported Pickens’ abuse of students — all of whom lacked the verbal abilities to tell anyone about the abuse — but Principal Frances Boyd “refused to act on their reports.”

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