Good Georgia Education Lawyer represents Dr. Jackson Reynolds, an APS whistleblower and former special education teacher who rescued her severely autistic special needs students from child abuse after she uncovered that certain paraprofessional staff had been physically assaulting them. She uncovered the abuse after setting up video cameras in her classroom and immediately reported the abuse within the 24 hour requisite period.
Dr. Jackson Reynolds had been complaining about the paraprofessionals negligent behavior to her Principal all year long to no avail. She repeatedly complained (well documented in writing) that they refused to do their job and watched movies all day long on their laptops. She was threatened by her supervisor after she made an attempt to report it to central office downtown. Subsequently, in an effort to prove what was happening, she set up the video cameras. It was then that she discovered the horrific reality of what actually was occurring to the children behind her back: staff abused the children when she stepped outside of the classroom, behind the partition wall to attend to diaper changes, or they were outside her line of vision.
After reporting the abuse to APS, APS failed to properly investigate, not even formally questioning her as to what she had seen. Shortly after reporting the abuse, Dr. Jackson was horrified to learn that APS concluded the investigation without questioning her or reporting it to Child Protective Services, claiming they had found no evidence even though the only people they had interviewed were the two abusers and a non-verbal autistic victim.
Dr. Jackson Reynolds was forced to report the abuse to the Atlanta Police Department and Child Protective Services herself. The APD detective testified under oath that Dr. Jackson’s principal told him that she was only trying “to start some mess.” Dr. Jackson Reynolds was compelled to go to the media and it was only after she went on Nancy Grace, CNN, and the six’ o clock news did APS finally call Dr. Jackson Reynolds in for questioning two months after she had first reported it. APS then notified Dr. Jackson Reynolds that they were terminating her and put together ‘talking points’ in which they blamed the whistleblower.
Before Dr. Jackson Reynolds can consider filing a Georgia Whistleblower Action, she has been dealing with multiple traumatic crisis’s as a result of APS’ continued retaliation against her. APS continues to oppose Dr. Jackson Reynolds unemployment benefits, threatening her ability to keep a roof over her head. Our law firm is representing Dr. Jackson Reynolds pro bono in her unemployment matter. Additionally, APS retaliated by filing an ethics charge against Dr. Jackson Reynolds with the Professional Standards Commission, which regulates teaching certificates.
This placed Dr. Jackson Reynolds ability to obtain future gainful employment in jeopardy, and risked losing her license to teach while destroying her professional reputation—something Dr. Jackson Reynolds worked her entire life to achieve, including by obtaining her Doctorate in Special Education.
Fortunately however, Williams Oinonen LLC successfully represented Dr. Jackson Reynolds in her PSC matter. The Attorney General recommended PSC dismissed the charge against her.
Dr. Jackson transferred to APS last school year. She came from Gwinnett County School District where she had successfully worked as a special education teacher for many years and had a stellar career history, holding outstanding performance evaluations and job references. She is actively seeking work in the education, public service, non-profit field.
Unfortunately the culture which retaliated against whistleblowers who exposed corruption existed over a decade as outlined the Governor’s Special Investigation report. The current APS trial also exposed a decade long history of retaliation against those who blew the whistle.
Unfortunately Dr. Jackson Reynolds is not the only APS whistleblower that this law firm represents. Sadly however, what APS is doing to Dr. Jackson Reynolds and others continues to perpetuate the problem of retaliation against those who uncover corruption. It may be legally expedient in terms of setting up a defense against the parents of the abused children who will file a lawsuit. But it is not ethically expedient. By blaming and retaliating against the whistleblower, it continues to send the perverse message to other APS educators that the message they have received loud and clear for over a decade, exists to date.
The Assistant District Attorney and parents of the children praised Dr. Jackson Reynolds for her actions. In this article, the parent “thanks the good Samaritan teacher who made the footage.” While APS is quoted in this article, it does not state that it terminated this good Samaritan teacher as a result.
Williams Oinonen LLC urges the new Superintendent and Board of Education to address these issues and work to address this longstanding culture that took root for over a decade. Below is the Petition that Dr. Jackson Reynolds was forced to file as a result of APS denial of her unemployment benefits after wrongfully terminating her. The Georgia Department of Labor granted her unemployment benefits, but APS opposed this decision, forcing Dr. Jackson Reynolds now to appeal to the Superior Court.
See yesterday’s Feb. 18th post for the letter that was sent to the Board of Education and Superintendent back in July.