- Marlon A. Walker The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A DeKalb County School District public safety employee has filed a whistleblower lawsuit, saying district officials retaliated against him for reporting corruption in the public safety department and sexual misconduct involving students.
The lawsuit was filed Monday on behalf of Cpl. Fredrick Joiner. Joiner, a member of the department since 2014, is on paid administrative leave. The suit asks that he be returned to his job and for attorney and court costs and damages.
District officials said Tuesday they have not received a copy of the complaint.
The district “does not comment on pending litigation,” spokesman Andre Riley said.
Wednesday morning, Interim public safety department Chief Bradley Gober recommended Joiner for termination, asid Joiner’s attorney, Julie Oinonen.
Tuesday, Joiner said he was named officer of the year his first two years — the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school years. The atmosphere changed after he reported what he believed was serious misconduct.
“I had no support, and it felt like certain people could do certain things and the district would just let them,” he said, sitting in a conference room at Oinonen’s office.
Joiner recalled an incident at Stone Mountain High School where he was alerted by a chorus teacher that a student had written a suicide note. Joiner took the student to school counselors, who were headed to a graduation ceremony.
“They both advised me they were not going to deal with it, and wanted it written up as an informational report, not a suicide report,” he said.
He said a counselor pulled him into her office and forcefully grabbed him, reiterating with profanity that counselors would not deal with the matter that day. He filed a complaint about the assault.
Shortly thereafter, he was transferred to Tucker High School.
He also told school officials about a student who was sexually assaulted and an assistant principal exhibiting predatory behavior against a student.
The most egregious offense, Oinonen said, is that Joiner said he emailed school board members asking for whistleblower protection and was told by several employees that emails were erased before school board members were able to check.
If it’s true, it’s a very unconstitutional violation of Georgia law,” Oinonen said. “We’re asking the board of education to intervene for Fredrick Joiner, and to take action.”