Ex-DeKalb principal resigns; was accused of many infractions

5:23 p.m Tuesday, March 8, 2016 Education

The Lakeside High School principal accused of making disparaging comments to custodial staffers also had sexually harassed a teacher and changed grades for students, DeKalb County School District officials said Tuesday.

Jason Clyne resigned Friday from his job with the district, Superintendent Steve Green said. Clyne has been on paid leave since being removed from Lakeside High School in January. He will work from home, receiving assignments from the Office of Legal Affairs, until his contract ends June 30, Green said.

Green removed Clyne from the high school after fliers posted around the school suggested Clyne made disparaging comments during a meeting with custodial staffers.

District staff investigating that incident uncovered six other allegations made before this school year. Green said Clyne already had been under investigation for two other complaints made during this school year.

“The situation at Lakeside was on my radar,” Green said Tuesday morning. “The things I knew about, we did an investigation … somewhat early in the process, and we were trying to work through the process.”

According to a file received through an open-records request, investigations found that Clyne had:

• allowed parent volunteers to use his computer log-in to access and update student records

• made unauthorized permanent grade changes for students

• allowed a non-qualified student to graduate from Lakeside High School

• gave district iPads and WiFi passwords to parent volunteers

• made racial and discriminatory comments about black people to an assistant principal

• made inappropriate sexual comments to an employee

• improperly mediated with students about a Confederate flag using school colors being passed around on social media

Some investigations never reached a conclusion. Ron Ramsay, the district’s chief legal officer at the time, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

In one case, a teacher gave an extra-credit assignment to help students boost their grades. Ten students requested the assignment, but one completed it. The teacher submitted paperwork for the grade change. In the summer of 2014, it was discovered Clyne changed the grades of all students in the class. Affixed to the grade-change document for the one student was a note: “Teacher misinformed student(s) of final grade due to miscalculation.” A former assistant principal said during the investigation that Clyne recalculated grades for the class.

In another case, a teacher changed the grade of a student who had failed his class from a 54 to a 70, which allowed the student to graduate.

Green said he was unaware of any others being disciplined in relation to the allegations against Clyne.

In the meantime, the Anti-Defamation League is working with students and teachers at Lakeside High School to create a culture that resists hate in schools. Green said Clyne was just a piece of the equation when it came to addressing racial issues at the high school.

“My focus was on the bigger picture, the climate and culture of the school,” he said. “You’d rather not get to this point, but you have a teachable moment here for students to be able to work through their problems. I hope we’ve created a pathway and opportunity for Lakeside to go to another place.”

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