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Albany teen makes own path to college

After continued frustrations finally led to Jordan Denson leaving the Dougherty County School System, the Albany 16-year-old, center, with her father, William Denson, and grandmother Elizabeth Nichols, earned her GED and is headed to Darton State College May 21.

After continued frustrations finally led to Jordan Denson leaving the Dougherty County School System, the Albany 16-year-old, center, with her father, William Denson, and grandmother Elizabeth Nichols, earned her GED and is headed to Darton State College May 21.

ALBANY, Ga. -- As each new well-documented problem confronting the Dougherty County School System has surfaced, the community has grown a little more resistant to shock. Angry citizens, those "waiting to hear what will happen next," have tended to ignore specific details and allowed issues to become about the school system as an institution, not about people ... about students, teachers and administrators.

Sixteen-year-old soon-to-be Darton State College freshman Jordan Denson is an ideal candidate to serve as the face of some of the Dougherty system's problems. A highly precocious, extremely intelligent teen who, had it not been for the intervention of her parents, might very well have been swallowed and spit out by the local system, Jordan found educational redemption when she left the Dougherty school system.

With the encouragement of her divorced parents, William and Lisa Denson, and her paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Nichols, Jordan recently took and easily passed the General Education Development exams after completing required preparatory classes at Moultrie Technical College. On May 21, while most of her now high school-age classmates are settling into their three-month summer vacation, Jordan will sit through her first day of classes at Darton.

"I was no angel, but I also didn't deserve to be treated the way they treated me," Jordan, whose troubles initially surfaced at Merry Acres Middle School, said. "I was not someone who caused a lot of problems; I was a kid who was bored, and because I was bored I talked a lot."

Before her parents decided they'd had enough and took Jordan out of the school system, she said she had been repeatedly groped by male students at Merry Acres, was expelled from the school when she refused to identify students who had "put their hands on my butt every time I bent over to get a book from my locker," threatened with a punch to the face by a classroom teacher and told she was stupid and would never amount to anything by an Albany Middle School staffer angry because Jordan had asked to call home for "female issues."

This from a student who ranked first in her class in grades K-5 and was moved into the system's "Excel" program for gifted students in the seventh grade.

"What I saw was a total breakdown of the school system," said William Denson, a musician and electronics expert who recently retired from Albany State University. "Jordan wasn't getting any kind of an education, and because she was the kind of person who spoke her mind, the people in the system seemed to have a vendetta against her.

"There were constant issues, and when she told me what the person said to her at Albany Middle -- which I knew we couldn't prove because this woman and Jordan were the only people in the room -- I just said enough is enough."

Elizabeth Nichols became a fixture at Lincoln Magnet School through the first six years of her granddaughter's education, walking with Jordan to and from school each day. Nichols talks proudly of her little honor student, who had few social and absolutely no academic issues during those idyllic times.

Jordan's success in the classroom continued when she moved on to Robert Cross Middle Magnet School, but it was about the time she reached seventh grade and was selected to participate in the school system's Excel program that personal family problems surfaced. For the first time in her life, Jordan's grades started to suffer, and she was eventually taken out of the gifted program at Merry Acres and moved into that school's general population.

That's when her troubles mounted.

CHANGING SCHOOLS

"I was on a different floor of the school, interacting with people I'd never met before," she said. "I had a bottom locker, and every time I'd bend over to get a book, guys would come up and smack my butt or grope me. I just got tired of it."

Jordan said she went to the school's counselor to complain, and while she was discussing the situation the school's principal, Ufot Inyang, came into the counselor's office.

"I was uncomfortable with him being there," Jordan said. "I felt this was a private, one-on-one counseling session, but he insisted on listening. He told me he wanted me to identify every boy who had touched me inappropriately, and I told him I wasn't going to do that. I would have been setting myself up to be attacked; the bathrooms at Merry Acres do lock from the inside.

"I told him: 'I'm not gonna do that, that would be stupid.' He got mad and started yelling at me, told my counselor 'I want this person out of my school right now.' I couldn't believe it. I was being groped by boys, and he was kicking me out of school."

Inyang, who was recently promoted to assistant superintendent/director of curriculum and instruction for the school system, remembers the meeting with Jordan differently.

"I kept trying to pin her down, but she kept changing her story," Inyang said. "I told her I wanted to help her, but I couldn't help her if she wouldn't tell me who these students were. Our policy is, if we have a student who is a discipline problem, we transfer them back to their home school. When (Jordan) was accepted back at Robert Cross, that was the end of it for me. I washed my hands, end of story.

"Her father tried to intimidate me by telling me he knew (then-School Superintendent) Dr. (Joshua) Murfree, but I was not concerned because I knew I was right in this case."

Lisa Denson, who said she met with Inyang and Jordan's counselor, said Inyang did demand that Jordan be removed from Merry Acres.

"He became really ugly when Jordan explained that telling on the boys who had touched her would be suicide," Jordan's mother said. "He said, 'She is out of my school; get her dismissal papers now.' I couldn't believe it."

Nichols and William Denson were also called to meet with Inyang and Jordan's teachers at Merry Acres.

"He was basically trying to cover his ass," Nichols said. "He's got these teachers sitting there, and he's saying what an incorrigible disruptive student Jordan is. It was a complete farce."

photo

Jordan Denson, left, with her father, William Denson.

Jordan went back to Robert Cross and finished the seventh grade, but when her mother became seriously ill the next year, she missed a considerable amount of class time while sitting with her mother in the hospital. She said she requested her homework assignments but got them from only one teacher, and by the time she settled back into school routine she was hopelessly behind.

"We were getting ready for eighth-grade graduation -- I'd bought my cap and gown and was really excited because I'd always wanted to be an Albany High Indian -- and the graduation coach told me there was no reason for me to keep coming (to practice) because I was going to fail," Jordan said. "I was devastated, embarrassed. All my friends were going on to high school, and I was staying behind."

Robert Cross Principal Sammy Pringle would not talk specifically about Jordan's academic record at the school, but he did note that "she was a young lady with a lot of potential but who had a whole lot of challenges."

With all her friends moving on in their academic careers, Jordan asked her parents and received permission to transfer to her zoned school, Albany Middle. They relented.

"Worst mistake we ever made," William Denson said.

At Albany Middle, Jordan said she was constantly written up by teachers who did not like the fact that she finished her assignments well ahead of her classmates and became disruptive in her boredom.

"Being at Albany Middle was a complete waste of my time," she said. "I was making great grades, but everything was so dumbed down. They were reading on a fifth- or sixth-grade level, and they moved so slowly I would find myself sitting for two- and three-hour blocks with nothing to do. I was completely bored.

"I asked one of my teachers if I could go to the library to try and do some extra research and he told me, 'If I let you go out of my class to the library, people are going to say, "Why did you let that white g ..." and then he just told me to sit down."

'SHE DIDN'T GIVE UP'

William Denson said he called Murfree, whom he had known well when both worked at Albany State, to talk with him about Jordan's problems, but the DCSS superintendent kept putting him off.

"He was about as much help as a wet napkin," Denson said. "Jordan used to sit in on his classes at Albany State when she was little, and I always respected him. But he wouldn't even talk to me when I tried to contact him."

Finally, on March 6, 2012, the Densons took their daughter out of the school system, and William Denson signed her up with the state's homeschool network.

"I was told there was no set curriculum but there were guidelines," Denson said. "We went to Books-A-Million and bought the curriculum for the GED. State law says that if you're 18, you're eligible to take the GED at any time, but if you're under 18 you have to take classes to qualify. We signed her up for classes at Moultrie Tech."

Jordan breezed through the English and reading classes at Moultrie Tech. ("After about two weeks, my reading instructor told me, 'There's nothing I can do for you,'" she said.) She had more problem with math, so she redoubled her efforts in that discipline.

After being enrolled in classes for no more than two months, her instructors deemed her ready to take the GED pre-tests, a requirement before she was allowed to take the actual GED. She passed the pre-tests easily and then, in March, passed the GED exams. She applied and, despite her age, was allowed to enroll at Darton as an "exceptional exemption" because of her excellent scores on the GED.

The Densons are, as would be expected, proud of their daughter.

"I tell my baby I'm proud of her every day," Lisa Denson said. "For her to have certain teachers and principals from the school system tell her she would never amount to anything and for her to do what she's done ... Well, I couldn't be prouder.

"I really think a lot of those teachers resented Jordan because, frankly, she was smarter than they were."

William Denson also blames the Dougherty school system for many of his daughter's problems.

"I guess the Dougherty County School System actually helped Jordan out," he said. "By sucking so bad and her being exposed to such poor teachers and administrators, we decided her only chance was to get out of that system. It wasn't easy on her, and it wasn't easy on her family, but I'm so proud that she didn't give up."

Jordan, meanwhile, is excited about attending Darton, where she plans to study pharmacy. She said she's thankful to have the opportunity to tell her story.

"I would not be where I am today if my parents had not taken me out of that school system," she said. "I had so many people telling me what I couldn't do, telling me that I was going to fail. If you write this and it helps one person who is in the same shoes I was in, then it will be worth it.

"No, I was not the best kid in school. But nobody deserves to be treated the way I was treated."

Comments

rightasrain 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Ufot Inyang exhibited an attitude that most DCSS teachers and administrators reflect, "I wash my hands. End of story." Maybe the interim super needs to re-open this and fire Inyang. DCSS is a joke.

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RedEric 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Wow, what a story! Jordan, do not take Darton lightly. School work demands at any high school pales to that required at a legitimate institute. You haven't had much experience in handling demanding course work, but you will be OK. Just don't panic.

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Francis 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Thank you for this story! Unfortunately, there are hundreds more students that are experiencing the same treatment. Perhaps this will show parents that they really do have other options while Dr. Mosley attempts to turn the DCSS around. My son had a similar experience but finally had a counselor at Westover that took a real interest in him and helped him. He did graduate from high school but it was only possible because of Mrs. Sawyer. We received no help from Gene Melvin or the senior counselor.

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bubbavet 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Wonder how long he would have a job if he was still at ASU? Great story. My prayers go with you.

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Retired_guy 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Sad that you have to leave the DCSS to get an education

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VSU 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Is it any wonder that Murfree and the school system was a joke? Seems to me she was a bright student but the school system was trying to dumb her down. Good for her that she was able to get through despite the schools incompetence.

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chinaberry25 11 months, 2 weeks ago

I have seen the groping myself as a sub. The black male students in DCSS, and this is not a racist statement seem to have the attitude that they are entitled to do this if they want to when it comes to touching. I have been asked about my sex life in front of the class by male students at Albany Middle. It is suppose to be 10 days suspension if they get written up for it, but I have yet to see it. If I had a white daughter I would do the same thing or move to Lee County. They would not get away with it for one second there. But what can you expect when the principals are doing the same thing (James) and teachers are sexting female students. It is a sight to behold and I would have never ever thought this to be true if I had not seen it. But the Excel program always seem to be aboveboard, but one never knows. I can only imagine what goes on at Dougherty Middle. I have even seen a male student at DHS try to have sex in the classroom with a female. You cannot even turn your back or it is all over.

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ZCorp 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Nice Story. The End ? How about lifetime work In an Economic Recession / Depression . Imagine the year 2020 ? What will be the job prospects for this young lady ? Graduation is cool, fine, but then we enter the " Real World " ! God luck Miss, you will need it !

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RedEric 11 months, 2 weeks ago

But she is going into Pharmacy. That is an excellent choice now. A Pharmacist has a lot of mobility. That said, you are correct. I believe we haven't seen the bad times yet. The bottom lies ahead.

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agirl_25 11 months, 2 weeks ago

I wish her luck too.....did you know that pharmacists must earn a Pharm.D. degree from an accredited college or school of pharmacy. The Pharm.D. degree has replaced the Bachelor of Pharmacy degree, which is no longer being awarded. I had no idea until someone told me that recently. Looked it up and sure enough, no more Bachelor of Pharmacy degrees.

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Sister_Ruby_Two 11 months, 2 weeks ago

How many different people down at the Herald write under the nom de plume "Carlton Fletcher"? I count about 4 or 5.

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Abytaxpayer 11 months, 2 weeks ago

They are called ghost writers. Carlton is too busy restricting our right to free speech and open discussions with his little game called “Your content has been submitted for moderator approval”

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free_ur_mind 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Sounds like a student with great potential, but the parents are at fault here. First, they should never condone a child to be disruptive in class, regardless of her high intelligence. Rather than be sent to the library, why didn't the parents get with the teachers beforehand to come up with additional classwork to be done in the classroom. Of course, I also think the school administrators were at fault, too. It's ridiculous that Dr. Inyang was in the room during a counseling session. He should have been sensitive to the problem of her being a whistleblower. This is a sad case all around and I hope that she received enough preparation and discipline to succeed at college at such a young age.

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beenhereawhile 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Agree. And the parents threatening to bring in Dr. Murfree sounds like a huge mistake, first because the administrators didn't respect him and he did not do anything. And the parents having the attitude that their kid is smarter than all the teachers is not a good one to take.

Good luck to this young lady.

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Wryone 11 months, 2 weeks ago

We had a similar problem with our son in elementary school. After trying to deal with compltete incompetent administrators and teachers, we pulled him out and homeschooled him. As he progressed, we found a school named Home School University where there were groups of home schooled kids taking the same classes taught by an accredited teacher. He finished up there and is now at UGA. The public school environments today are not unlike prisons of old, just warehouse em' and shuttle them around until they are out of the system. Doesn't matter if they fall through the cracks, they are somone else's problem. If I had anymore children, they would not be subjected to the Public Schools of Indoctrination and Abuse.

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Terry.Lewis 11 months, 2 weeks ago

I'd just like to say that a quality education can be had in the DCSS. I send two children through the public schools. One graduated from UGA in 2011 and my youngest is now at Darton. Jordan Denson is just one story of many. Some work, some don't. To paint an entire district with the wide brush of "Public Schools of Indoctrination and Abuse." is ridiculous. Just my two cents from someone who has been there.

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Wryone 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Terry old boy...I have been there, too. All is not peachy keen for many students. Yours were the exception.

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whattheheck 11 months, 2 weeks ago

The question in my mind is how atypical is the situation in Carlton's article. We pay good money and should get better results like other systems seem to provide. I certainly am not willing to paint the DCSS with the "wide brush of success" it enjoyed many years ago.

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Terry.Lewis 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Oh, I agree with your last sentence. This is what Butch Mosely is trying to correct right now. As far as "atypical?" I don't know. Perhaps a survey of home-schooled students and their parents would be be worth delving into.

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PatrickY2K 11 months, 2 weeks ago

We are to believe that we are getting the entire story? She was just striving for academic excellence, and was harassed by her teachers and fellow students? Even if she was a behavior problem because she was bored academically, that behavior has been omitted in this story. Maybe she had been a behavior problem before asking to go to the library, and the teacher wasn't going to reward her. Maybe the teacher is being misquoted by a 16-year-old! Is that a possibility?

Public education does not meet the needs of all students. That's the only story here..and that the Herald told part of a story to sell newspapers...again.

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rightasrain 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Did you learn grammar and spelling in the DCSS? LOL

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agirl_25 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Isn't there some sort of saying about the story? There are 3 sides to every story. Their side, her side and the truth? A he said/she said type situation where I guess no one will ever know. Still I do wish her much luck and hope she makes it. It is a long hard road to a Pharm D degree but the rewards are well worth it.

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Doc15 11 months, 2 weeks ago

If Butch is such a good administrator then he would be fair across the board. He picks and chooses who to aggressively deal with. He has done some good things, however, Chief Troy Conley has been a nuisance to the DCSS along with his hand picked Asst. Chief. Julius Phillips. Conley and Phillips have had several grievances filed against them by their fellow officers for retaliation, hostile work environment, unfair treatment, etc. Butch is aware but I guess he has to wait for Tommy Coleman's approval before he can act on it. On the other hand, there are some great teachers, staff, in the DCSS, let's just hope Butch doesn't listen to the "big wigs" to help him make his decision. Butch needs to formulate his own opinion and base his decisions off performance and not political ideology.

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TRUTH101 11 months, 2 weeks ago

LOL.... I find it hilarious that the Herald printed this article as if it was FACTS....... This little girl is not the first to be ahead of her peers. Just because she finished early and apparently became bored did not give her the right to misbehave. As for Dr. Inyang, anybody that knows him is well aware that he is a no nonsense type of administrator and will not allow for any disrespect in his school. Furthermore, as a father I would have demanded that my daughter told on who was groping her. That way if the school didn’t handle I would. Her issues at Robert Cross seem to have been the cause of her parents for allowing her to miss school. There was no need for her to sit with her mother. She was not taking care of her but rather sitting and keeping her company…..but I wish the young lady much success. I just wonder who the parents will blame next…….

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VSU 11 months, 2 weeks ago

So you are saying this story isn't true, that it was a made up story?

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PatrickY2K 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Do you always believe everything a 16-year-old tells you? Isn't there a chance that her version of the stories are a little slanted?

If she was just trying to better herself academically, and the schools weren't challenging her, why didn't she take a book to school to read during her free time? She didn't attend 8th grade, but expected to be passed to the next grade. That's right in line with the "everything is someone else's fault" mentality that her parents clearly encourage.

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VSU 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Do you always believe everything you are told? Isn't there the slightest chance that what the story says is true? You sound jealous of her success.

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jordanleann 11 months, 1 week ago

Thanks for supporting me. I appreciate it.

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Sister_Ruby_Two 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Patrick, you sound as if you are sad you missed out on the groping opportunities.

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PatrickY2K 11 months, 2 weeks ago

After sleeping on this and re-reading the article, I am just disgusted that Mr. Fletcher would write this crap. Is he friends with the father? No mention of her behavior that led to teachers denying her privileges.

Someone made the choice that she would sit with her mom at the hospital, and then acted as if she was being singled-out and picked-on when the school didn't pass her to the next grade. Seriously?

She brought inconsistent accounts of harassment to the counselors and administrators. That, along with being a behavior problem, doesn't do much for her creditability. It's too bad the Herald didn't recognize that, too.

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VSU 11 months, 2 weeks ago

She only mentioned that she talked a lot because she was bored, as far as the inconsistant accounts of harrassment, she was probably afraid to say anything in fear she would get jumped on in the restroom or someplace else, with that school system, I wouldn't be surprised at all.

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PatrickY2K 11 months, 2 weeks ago

She isn't the first smart student to attend the DCSS, but thanks for your speculation on what happened two years ago based on the account of a then 14-year-old. Making comments about her safety in the restroom that have no basis in fact is not responsible. Delivering one side of the story, so the reader can fill-in the gaps with guesses is not journalism.

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VSU 11 months, 2 weeks ago

It's not one side of the story. When my nephew went to Dougherty High school, he had to go home to use the restroom because the gangs were jumping people that went in the rerstrooms, so it is not just one side of the story. I had friends of mine say the same thing about their chirldren being afraid to go to the restroom for fear of being attacked.So you can ignore it if you want to, but based on the bahavior of the shool kids and what my friends said that happen, there is no doubt in my mind she is telling the truth.

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Doc15 11 months, 2 weeks ago

<p>@PatrickY2K....I totally agree with you. It appears that she was not such an angel as the Herald is making her out to be. I wonder if her disciplinary record was pulled what would it show????? This story is partially told. I am curious about Mr. Fletcher's motive behind this.

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VSU 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Maybe he's jealous because his children is not as smart as she is.

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sad_for_albany 11 months, 2 weeks ago

My first thought was this is another hatchet job on DCSS. If it is like everything else, there is probably very little the school can say about the students, especially for an article like this.

Bored or not, there is no excuse for bad behavior. Are we supposed to excuse the kids that break into our homes this summer because they are bored? I'm sure some of what she got, she deserved.

There are always other educational options. It is just a matter of what you are willing to do to get it.

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PatrickY2K 11 months, 2 weeks ago

The more I re-read this article, the more ridiculous it seems that a journalist would pass this off as news. It could have been written using her Facebook page as the only source.

"Jordan Benson says she's too smart for school; teachers out to get her."

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jordanleann 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Excuse me sir, but if you're going to try to talk about me, at least spell my name right. It's Denson, with a d.

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DCSSTeacher 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Patrick, don't get so upset over this article. It is vintage Carlton. Trust me when I say that no one in the DCSS takes him seriously anyway. Think about it: why should we pay attention to the racist pontification of a child molester? This man was removed from Westover years ago for an inappropriate relationship with a student. And he is suddenly qualified to sit in judgment of the "treatment" that this child endured?

You cannot expect teachers and administrators to take someone seriously who makes accusations but offers no corroborating evidence, who changes schools more than she changes clothes, and who takes no responsibility for her own behavior. Plenty of "gifted" children finish their work early and find other ways to occupy their time besides becoming a classroom disruption.

Bottom line: anyone who changes schools that many times proves that the problem wasn't always the school. She was a problem student. Look for the pattern! The pattern always reveals the truth. Something Fletcher the Molester obviously missed...

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agirl_25 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Interesting post. I am sure that you have proof of what you have accused Fletcher of. I am not defending him, if it is true, but would hate to see this turn in to a case of libel since it is written out for all to see. You are user #101214 according what I found, so are not hard to ID. I hope this doesn't turn nasty. I do agree tho, that there must be more to the story than what we see.

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southernking52 11 months, 2 weeks ago

I agree totally. He refuses to do any investigations behind his news stories. If he had actually sat down with this family, he would have gathered the members are severely troubled and ignorant. I myself was a gifted teacher, and the first thing we are taught is to have other activities for gifted students to do if they finish early. This child is a behavior problem all the way.

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Spike 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Completely agree with Patrick. What is also missing is the amount of responsibility the parents should shoulder. Getting a divorce, no matter how amicable, always affects the kids involved. Fletcher's article is a farce. Tabloid writing at it's best. Certainly nothing I would refer to as good journalism.

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southernking52 11 months, 2 weeks ago

I have spent time with this young lady and her father. I don't know what happened to her in the school is true or false. I'm not going to talk about her because she is someone's child. However, her father is one of the most ignorant people I have ever met. He believes that the world should spin off his words. He believes he has a solution or an excuse for everything, and that is what really makes him ignorant. He refuses to accept responsibility for the other problems Jordan has had. As a parent, I know that we do the best job we can with what we have. However, this man has allowed his daughter to lead an adult life and has been a major reason behind her problems. Yet, he wants to blame the school system and promote his daughter like she is this angel who did not bring some of these problems on herself. I don't believe it is right for her to be groped, but what Bill Denson wants to do is tell you "his story" and not the real story. DCSS is not perfect and needs a lot of work. However, some parents are using this as a excuse for how their children act in school. Bill Denson is one of them. He really needs to look at his issues and stop blaming other entities.

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PatrickY2K 11 months, 2 weeks ago

It's not surprising to learn that his ignorance isn't just an isolated incident, but a way of life. Mr. Fletcher found a real winner!

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jordanleann 11 months, 1 week ago

Through everyone's doubts and hateful words, I am still succeeding in life. I just thought I should let all of you know that I am now registered for school and I start classes at Darton on Wednesday. So, please continue to post mean and rude comments. They only motivate me more! :)

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Sherwood_Eagle_Alum 11 months, 1 week ago

Don't wallow in the mud with the folks on this site. A life-lesson some of us take too long to learn as we grow older and wiser is that you can't please everyone.

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