ALBANY, Ga. -- Dougherty County School System Superintendent Butch Mosely late Monday suspended South Georgia Regional Achievement Center Principal John I. Davis without pay for an undetermined length of time for violations of the system's policy of requiring criminal background checks for school volunteers.
School volunteer Grady Alexander O’Neal, 33, was arrested last week and charged with molesting a 14-year-old female SGRAC student. O'Neal was known to visit the school on a regular basis, raising questions as to how O'Neal, who system officials say has two previous statutory rape convictions, was allowed access to the building and its students.
Following a complaint from the female student, an investigation by Dougherty County School System Police investigator J.C. Phillips revealed O'Neal had a large file of former criminal activity, including statutory rape and felony stalking convictions.
O'Neal was charged with three counts of child molestation and more charges are pending. He is currently being held without bond in the Dougherty County Jail.
DCSS policy requires that all school volunteers undergo a criminal background check before being allowed to work at the district's schools.
The background checks are requested by the building administrators (principals) and are processed by the DCSSPD. In O'Neal's case, a background check was not performed until after the investigation was under way.
None of the alleged incidents occurred on school property.
Davis, who has been the principal at SGRAC for the past seven years, met with Mosely Monday and accepted the suspension.
"There are some unusual circumstances in this case in that the girl's parents gave permission for (O'Neal) to take the child home from school," Mosely said. "He actually because a 'mentor' to the child. Still, as far as I'm concerned, not asking for a background check is a direct violation of board policy."
Mosely said he was unsure as to the length of Davis' suspension, saying he wanted "to sleep on it." His options appear to be five-10 days or the remainder of the school year, which ends May 6.
The superintendent said he hopes the suspension will send a message to the system's other principals.
"Our volunteer programs need to be scrutinized more closely, and if our principals aren't on the ball, they need to get on the ball — quickly," Mosely said.
A call to Davis' cell phone requesting comment went to voicemail and had not been returned by press time.