Carol Sadler
Special Education Consultant/Advocate
1105 Rock Pointe Look
Woodstock, GA 30188

I am a lay Parent Advocate assisting parents of children with disabilities in school IDEA, 504 and SST meetings. I am a former CHADD and LDA Coordinator, graduate of the 1st GA Advocacy Office PLSP legal training course and most importantly parent of two children with various disabilities.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Fulton County Report of Investigation of Melanie Pickens - Abuse and Neglect

For people who do not believe abuse and neglect of this magnitude happen in public school, here is Fulton County GA own investigation of one of their teachers, Melanie Pickens. This abuse and neglect to special needs students was not reported to parents, DFACS or the Police as required by law.

Many fine educators and personnel in the system reported the abuse and neglect over several years, as required, to their Administrator Ms. Boyd. She did not report to DFACS or Police, but it was reported to County Level personnel, who also did not report to DFACS or Police. There was years of systematic cover-up, even from the parents, who still do not have all the documents.

This teacher to date has never been charged with a crime.

If you know of other school abuse and neglect, please contact Spec. Ed. Attorney, Chris Vance 404-320-6672.

Advocacy & Consulting Services - IEPadvocate4you
Carol Sadler, Special Education Consultant/Advocate
GA Advocacy Office PLSP I Graduate
1105 Rock Pointe Look
Woodstock, GA 30188

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"There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people." ---- Thomas Jefferson

“Refrain from Restraining, Secluding and Corporal Punishment” ---- Carol Sadler, Advocate

GNET=GetNoEducation/Therapy=PsychoNOed=Jail without jury or trial=Imprisonment without legal representation

Information contained in this communication is confidential and privileged. It is not meant to represent legal or medical advice, but rather advice given based on my knowledge as a trained Parent Advocate by the GA Advocacy Office, Council of Parent Advocates & Attorneys, CHADD, LDA, the GA DOE Parent Mentor program as an invited guest and the special education attorneys that I often work with on educational matters. Please do not forward without my permission.




Date: 07/20/07

Joe Umbarger

W. S. Williams

Business Decisions Information, Inc.

Fulton County Board of Education
Human Resources Division
Date: May 21, 2007



Susan Tallant


Hopewell Middle School Alpharetta, GA


Hopewell Middle School 13060 Cogburn Road Alpharetta, GA 30004


Neglect and Abuse of a Special Education Student. DATE (5) OF ALLEGED MISCONDUCT':

May 21, 2007


Ms. Melanie Pickens, a Special Education Teacher at Hopewell Middle School, placed Jake Marshall, a severely physically and mentally impaired student into a classroom alone and without supervision for an extended period of time. The classroom door was closed. Jake Marshall was later discovered to have soiled himself and he had spread feces all about his body and face while restrained in his chair.


Board Policy Policy Detail:

School System employees are obligated under Georgia Code 19-7-5 to report suspected Cases of child abuse. A System employee who knowingly and willfully fails to report a suspected case of child abuse shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. Child abuse includes neglect, exploitation, sexual abuse and/or physical injury by other than accidental means. School System employees are protected by law and are immune from liability when child abuse is reported properly.

A School System employee, having reasonable cause to believe that a parent or caretaker has abused a student should report such cases to the principal or designee. The principal or designee shall contact the school social worker who will make a referral, when appropriate, to the Department of Family and Children Services.


Melanie Pickens appeared for a scheduled interview meeting on July 1.1 2007 accompanied by her attorney, Warren C. Fortson.

Wan-en C. Fortson

Attorney At Law

123 Tuxedo Terrace, N.W. Atlanta, GA 30342

In preliminary discussions with Mr. Fortson, we informed him of the "Gann), Warning" concerning self incrimination which would he given on record to Ms. Pickens. The warning would inform Ms. Pickens that her statement could be used by the state for criminal proceedings.

Mr. Fortson would not accept the Garrity Warning. He had prepared a specific agreement which stipulated the terms for Ms. Pickens to provide an interview statement. The agreement stated that her statement will not and can not be used against her in any criminal proceedings. "For any and all purposes, I hereby reserve my constitutional right to remain silent under the Filth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and any other rights prescribed by law."

The investigator did not have the authority to accept and sign the agreement document. The interview was terminated and a copy of the attorney's proposed agreement was submitted to Cindy Kanner.


Statement of Ms. Judy Marshall, the Mother of Jake Marshall:

Jake Marshall is severely impaired and cannot talk. his mother made a statement concerning this particular incident and previous incidents. (Exhibit A)

Jake Marshall has Angelman's Syndrome which causes him severe physical and mental impairment. He is non verbal and has profound mental retardation. He is taking three medications for this disease, Depakote Sprinkles to control his seizures, Clonidine for his attention deficit, and Robinul to control his drooling.

Judy Marshall was interviewed on July 5, 2007 in a conference room at Hopewell Middle School, Alpharetta, GA.

On May 21, 2007, Jake Marshall arrived home from school on the school bus as normal; however, Ms. Marshall immediately noticed a strong odor about Jake when he got off the bus. The assistant on the bus. Jonette, said that he had made a mess at school. Ms. Marshall thought that he had a bowel movement, because this had happened before.

When Jake got into the house, Ms. Marshall started cleaning him up and noticed a lot of spots of feces on his face, hair and under his fingernails. Although there was supposed to be a note in Jake's Agenda hook (a student book where the teachers communicate with the parents with notes) as to the incident that day at school, there was none.

The next day, May 22, 2007, Ms. Marshall got a telephone call from Ms. LeBlanc, the Fulton County Social Worker assigned to Jake's case. Ms. LeBlanc told Ms. Marshall at that time about the incident the previous day at the school. Ms. LeBlanc told Ms. Marshall that Jake had been left in a room by himself for at least 45 minutes. It was while he was in this room that Jake had a large bowel movement and had spread his feces all over the chair, tray, on the carpet and on his face and hair. Ms. Marshall was shocked to hear that Jake had been left by himself in the room.

The next day, May 23, 2007, Ms. Marshall met with Ms. LeBlanc, and Ms. LeBlanc told her that she had referred the case to the Department of Family and Children Services (DFACS).

On May 24, 2007, Ms. Marshall met with Ms. Dixon, the DFACS case worker. Ms. Dixon told Ms. Marshall that she would interview the staff and give her a report within 30 days. Ms. Marshall said that she has not received this report. Ms. Marshall did receive a report from Ms. LeBlanc on June 28, 2007.

Ms. Marshall was upset that before her meeting with Ms. Dixon, she observed Ms. Boyd, the principal, call Ms. Dixon and Ms. LeBlanc into her office where they talked for about 25 minutes. Ms. Boyd gave Ms. Marshall no explanation on why Ms. Marshall was excluded from the meeting.

Ms. Marshall had met Ms. Paula Merritt, the Instructional Support Teacher (1ST), for the Special Education Department of Hopewell Middle School. They met about two to three times a year about Jake's Individual Education Program (IEP). Ms. Merritt told Ms. Marshall several times that Jake was hard to work with and said mostly derogatory things about Jake. Ms. Marshall said nothing to Ms. Merritt about these remarks, but she did meet with Ms. Boyd in the Fall of 2006 where Ms. Marshall told her that she did not like these type of remarks about Jake. The derogatory remarks stopped after that meeting.

According to Ms. Marshall, any technique used with Jake, such as leaving him in a room by himself, has to be agreed upon among the teacher, the school and the parent. The IEP has to be signed by all of these participants, or otherwise, the technique is illegal. Leaving Jake in a room by himself is definitely not in his IEP. Earlier, a teacher had proposed to have leg and wrist restraints used on Jake while he was riding the school bus, but Ms. Marshall had rejected this.

To the best of Ms. Marshall's knowledge, there has been no other investigation by DFACS on any incident involving Jake at school. However, she did receive a call last year from a social worker at school reporting to her that Jake had been "tapped" on the hack of his head by Ms. Pickens. This, supposedly, was done to get his attention. Ms. Marshall met with the social worker, Ms. Boyd and Ms. Pickens about this incident. At that time, Ms. Marshall defended Ms. Pickens, because Ms. Marshall felt that Ms. Pickens was doing a good joh with Jake. Jake showed signs that he liked Ms. Pickens, and when he saw Ms. Pickens, he got excited and would walk faster and hug her. During the discussion of this incident, all participants agreed that Ms. Pickens would use a different technique to get Jake's attention.

In the Spring of 2006, Jake came from school, and Ms. Marshall helped him off the bus as usual. When they got to the house, Ms. Marshall started to fix Jake a snack as usual. She then noticed that Jake was rubbing his forehead and was guarding his head with his arm and forearm.

She went over to look at Jake's head and saw a large red knot on his forehead. There was no note in his agenda book. The next morning. Ms. Marshall called Ms. Pickens, and Ms. Pickens told her that Jake had fallen asleep on the bean-hag chair and had fallen off and hit his head on the metal cabinet next to it. At the time, Ms. Marshall felt that Ms. Pickens was telling her the truth, and she did not pursue the matter further.

During the school year, 2004/2005, Jake came home holding his hand close to his body, trying to protect it. Ms. Marshall took him to the doctor who x-rayed the hand. The x-ray showed a small hairline fracture between the 3rd and 4th finger on his right hand. Ms. Marshall did not determine why or how Jake may have been injured to cause this fracture but, she believed this injury occurred at school.


Statement of Frances M. Boyd, Principal, Hopewell Middle School (Exhibit 13):

Ms. Boyd was interviewed on June 29, 2007 in her office at Hopewell Middle School, Alpharetta, GA.

Ms. Boyd is the principal of Hopewell Middle School and she has been here for all three years that the school has been open. The Special Education Department came to the school with the students during the 2004/2005 school year. The Special Education teachers and Para-Pros (the teacher assistants in Special Education) came from other schools. Ms. Pickens came to Hopewell in 2004/2005 from the Special Education Department of Holcomb Bridge Middle School. Ms. Boyd did not hire her. Ms. Boyd had no prior experience with Special Education students before the department came to Hopewell Middle School.

Ms. Boyd first learned of the May 21, 2007 incident involving Jake on May 22, 2007 when Ms. Tallant came to Ms. Bovd's office with Paula Merritt, the 1ST and Stacy White, the Department Head for the Special Education Department.

On Tuesday morning, May 22. 2007, this group told Ms. Boyd what had happened the prior day. Ms. Boyd got out the policy book and read the portion on Abuse and Neglect, especially the part about Willful Neglect. She told them to all make written statements. She then contacted Ken McGee, the school social worker, to get the proper procedure started.

Ms. LeBlanc, the social worker assigned to the case, came to the school the next day, Wednesday, May 23, 2007. She then interviewed some of the people. Ms. LeBlanc was very responsive and very thorough.

According to Ms. Boyd, Ms. Marshall was upset because Ms. Pickens had not called her to tell her about what had happened to Jake the day of the incident. The teachers are supposed to keep a log of events in the classroom with the students. This is an informal procedure by the teachers to communicate with the parents about the students.

In the first school year. 2004/2005, Judy Reddick. the Special Needs Nurse, reported that Ms. Pickens was hitting Jake on the hack of the head. (Exhibit C). About one to two days later, Ms. Merritt told Ms. Boyd about the allegation. Ms. Boyd had an investigation done about the allegation. The social worker assigned to Hopewell Middle School, Ms. LeBlanc (she worked there at the time) recused herself from the investigation. Ms. Stephanie Schuette completed an investigation, but did not refer the incident to DFACS. At that point, it became a personnel issue. The information was sent to Ms. Dottie Pettis and Pam Gayles, the Director of Secondary Personnel.

A formal record was made of the incident. Ms. Pickens admitted in a statement that she had hit Jake on the head (Exhibit D). Ms. Boyd wrote a letter to Ms. Pickens after the completion of the investigation by the social worker, reviewing the case and outlining remedial actions to be taken by the school and Ms. Pickens (Exhibit E).

According to Ms. Boyd, Jake is a very difficult student. He just sits down on the floor and stays there, screaming. He is hard to get up. Ms. Pickens went to a special training school with Ms. Marshall and Jake to learn new strategies on how to handle Jake. Ms. Boyd tried to get Ms. Marshall to agree to have Jake enrolled in another school that had the "North Metro" program which has special techniques for severely impaired students. However, Ms. Marshall refused to consider this option and chose to have Jake remain in Hopewell Middle School.

In April, 2007, Ms. Merritt (IST) came to Ms. Boyd and told her, "Things are getting bad again. She's being too rough", meaning Ms. Pickens techniques with the Special Education students. Ms. Boyd went down to the Special Education hall to inquire about this. She spoke to Mr. Larry Walker, a Special Education assistant who had spent a career in management and had retired. Ms. Boyd respected his opinion because he had been in the business world and had, what she considered, a balanced perspective. She asked Mr. Walker if he had seen anything, and he replied that he had not. Ms. Boyd took no further action. Ms. Boyd said that none of the assistants came to her with any


accusations. When asked why not, she replied that she was not sure that the allegations were credible. Ms. Boyd did not lake their allegations seriously. Ms. Merritt told Ms. Boyd that none of the assistants wanted to talk to her.

During the course of the investigation above, Ms. Boyd had a meeting with Ms. Marshall concerning the allegation that Ms. Pickens hit Jake on the back of the head. Ms. Marshall defended Ms. Pickens, saying that Jake loved Ms. Pickens, hugged her and was more responsive to her than any other teacher, and if the 'allegation were true, then Jake would not love Ms. Pickens the way that he did. Having heard this from Ms. Marshall, Ms. Boyd did not lend any further credence to the allegations raised by the assistants.

Rumblings about Ms. Pickens being "too rough" started again during the school year of 2006/2007. No specifics were offered. Things like Ms. Pickens "pressed too hard against the wall" were being said. In the first part of May. 2007, Paula Merritt came to Ms. Boyd and told her that the teachers were "really upset" and they were "uncomfortable" about the way that Ms. Pickens was handling the students. Ms. Boyd did not act, because she had no specifics, no statement, just unconfirmed gossip.

Ms. Boyd called Ms. Pickens into the office and counseled her about her work with the students. She told Ms. Pickens "Don't lose it. Jake is leaving." Ms. Pickens responded, "Who's saying this?" The teacher would not come to Ms. Boyd directly to make a statement.

Stephanie Sosebee and Stacy White, both teachers on the Special Education Hall, had a meeting with Ms. Pickens to informally talk about Ms. Pickens work with the Special Education students. They told Ms. Pickens she had the reputation for being unprofessional with the children. They told her that roughness does not show respect for the children, and that she could lose her job. Ms. Pickens' response was to say, "I know, I know.- She acknowledged that she was about to "lose it." Ms. Pickens was receptive and said that she would make it through the rest of the year. Ms. White told Ms. Boyd of the meeting.,

Ms.Marrett also did not take the rumors seriously. Ms. Merritt told Ms. Boyd that she had never seen anything wrong in Ms. Pickens room. Ms. Boyd's opinion of Ms. Merritt was that. She was not being credible when she told Ms. Boyd about the reports she received from teachers and assistants about Ms. Pickens' treatment of the students. Ms. Merritt liked to have drama in the school.

Ms. Boyd told Ms. Merritt that if anyone had any information, they had the responsibility to officially report it or they would be guilty of not reporting.

Ms. Boyd went to Ms. Pickens' class about one time a week to observe her teaching the Special Education students. She would pop in unannounced and observe how Ms. Pickens was working. Ms. Boyd would see Jake behaving and sitting by Ms. Pickens' desk. Ms. Boyd did see Jake misbehave a lot in the hall. Ms. Boyd also visited the other special education teachers' classrooms.

Statement of Patricia "Trisha" A. LeBlanc, School Social Worker, NW Middle School: (Exhibit F)

Ms. LeBlanc was called on Tuesday, May 22, 2007 by Judy Tinsley. Secretary of the Social Work Department, Fulton County Board of Education. Ms. Tinsley told Ms. LeBlanc that she had been assigned to investigate the incident with Jake Marshall that occurred on May 21, 2007 at Hopewell Middle School.

Ms. LeBlanc called Ms. Boyd that morning and asked Ms. Boyd to get the written statements together for her to review when she got there. Ms. LeBlanc arrived at Hopewell Middle School on May 23, 2007 and obtained the written statements from Ms. Boyd. She then went down to the Special Education Hall to interview Susan Tallant, the person who made the original report of the incident.

Ms. Tallant could not tell Ms. LeBlanc the exact amount of time that Jake had spent in the room by himself and unsupervised; however, Ms. Tallant knew that it was at least 45 minutes. While in this room, Jake soiled himself and spread his feces on his face, hands and clothes. He also spread his feces in his mouth.

On the afternoon of May 23, 2007, Ms. LeBlanc called DFACS from the office after talking to Ms. Tallant and getting a written statement from Ms. Massey. The DFACS investigator arrived on Thursday, May 24, 2007. That day, Ms. LeBlanc called Ms. Marshall.

Ms. Marshall told Ms. LeBlanc during their telephone call that she had gotten a telephone call from a school social worker about two years ago that Ms. Pickens had hit Jake on the head.

Ms. Massey had two written statements. She made the first written statement sitting at the computer in Ms. Pickens' classroom while Ms. Pickens was present. Ms. Massey was so nervous during the investigation that she had to dictate the second statement to Ms. LeBlanc who wrote it out for Ms. Massey's signature.

Ms. Boyd told Ms. LeBlanc on Wednesday, May 23, 2007 that there had been an incident two years ago with an allegation that Ms. Pickens had hit Jake on the back of the head. Ms. Boyd provided Ms. LeBlanc with a copy of the file of that incident.

Ms. LeBlanc received a letter from DFACS sometime during the period between May 24, 2007 and June 8, 2007 that the allegation involving Jake Marshall was substantiated. Thursday, May 24, 2007 was the last day that Ms. LeBlanc was at the school. During that time, other people voluntarily came forward with additional written statements, Ms. Baugh, 11'13. 1\111g, and vis. Stacy

Ms. LeBlanc thinks that these people did not come forward sooner, because they were afraid that they would lose their job. They had to continue to work with Ms. Pickens, and they also felt that they would not be believed. Ms. King and Ms. Baugh both told Ms. LeBlanc that they had previously brought reports to Ms. Merritt and Ms. Boyd, but they had not been believed. The administrators did not take their reports seriously.

Statement of Ms. Judy L. Reddick, Special Needs Nurse, Fulton County Board of Education: (Exhibit G)

Ms. Reddick was interviewed on July 6, 2007 in a conference room at Hopewell Middle School, Alpharetta, GA.

During the school year 2004/2005, Ms. Reddick was the Special Needs Nurse for several schools, including Hopewell Middle School. She is now working in a Cluster Nurse position.

In November 2004, Ms. Reddick witnessed several incidents where Ms. Pickens hit Jake on the back of the head. Ms. Reddick saw her hit Jake with considerable force. Jake got to the point where he cowered and covered his head whenever Ms. Pickens used a harsh tone of voice with him.

Ms. Reddick also witnessed Ms. Pickens use inappropriate language with both Jake and Aaron Hatcher, another severely impaired student. Ms. Reddick heard Ms. Pickens use language to Aaron such as, "Your mom's a crack head." She also heard Ms. Pickens use language with both Jake and Aaron such as, "You little Fucker" when she got frustrated with them.

Ms. Pickens sent Jake across the hall to an empty room about two times a week during the school year. Each time, he would spend a minimum of 10 minutes by himself with the door closed.

On November 16, 2006, Ms. Reddick wrote a formal letter to Paula Merritt, the 1ST for the Special Education Department at Hopewell Middle School, in which Ms. Reddick outlined the fact that she had witnessed Ms. Pickens hitting Jake on the back of the head several times.

On November 17, 2006 (or the next school day), Ms. Merritt called Ms. Reddick and told her that she had taken the letter to Ms. Boyd. Ms. Reddick then met with Ms. Boyd concerning the letter. Ms. Boyd talked to Ms. Reddick about her letter and she used words like "alleged." Ms. Boyd wanted Ms. Reddick to directly confront Ms. Pickens herself, saying, "MS. Pickens has the right to confront hel accuser."

Ms. Reddick felt intimidated by the manner in which Ms. Boyd was handling this matter. Ms. Reddick responded by saying that she wanted her next-higher supervisor, Ms. Lynne Meadows, Student Health Services Supervisor, to be present in that meeting. However, Ms. Boyd did not want Ms. Meadows involved and did not want Ms. Reddick to speak to Ms. Meadows.

A social worker, Stephanie Schuete, did the investigation into the incidents that Ms. Reddick mentioned in her letter to Ms. Merritt. The social worker made the recommendation that the people on the Special Education Hall have a weekly meeting to discuss concerns and issues. But nothing significant was ever discussed.

In December, 2004, Ms. Boyd called Ms. Reddick into her office and told her that she should not continue to work at Hopewell Middle School. Ms. Reddick felt very intimidated by this however, she felt that, if she left, it would send a message that anyone who reported these incidents would not be welcome at the school. Ms. Boyd wanted to keep the whole incident inside the school. Ms. Boyd just wanted it to go away. However, she was forced to take formal action after Ms. Reddick talked to her supervisor, Ms. Meadows. After this incident and her interaction with Ms. Boyd, Ms. Reddick lost a lot of faith in the school system.

None of the other seven schools where Ms. Reddick worked had this type of problem. The only school that had this problem was Hopewell Middle School.

Later, Ms. Merritt called Ms. Reddick into her office and told her that Ms. Boyd had gotten very angry with Ms. Reddick because Ms. Reddick had spoken to Ms. Meadows and people "downtown."

Statement of Terri B. Goodman, Special Needs Nurse, Hopewell Middle School: (Exhibit H)

Terri Goodman was interviewed on July 6, 2007 In a conference room at Hopewell Middle School.

Ms. Goodman has been a nurse since 1981. She has worked for Fulton County since October 2005.

Ms. Goodman did not witness the incident with InkP on May 21, 2007.

Ms. Goodman has observed Ms. Pickens' inappropriate behavior with severely impaired students on other occasions. Ms. Pickens had a student, Aaron Hatcher, who has cerebral palsy. He cannot walk nor can he talk. Ms. Pickens had Aaron as a student during the school years, 2004/2005 and 2005/2006. Ms. Goodman saw Ms. Pickens place Aaron in a room across the hall by himself and unsupervised with the door closed on several occasions. Ms. Goodman observed that Aaron was afraid of Ms. Pickens.

In May 2006. Aaron's parents came to the school unexpectedly and saw Aaron in a room by himself. They got very upset about this. They demanded that Aaron not be placed in Ms. Pickens' class again next year. The school year 2006/2007, Aaron was placed with Ms. White, the department head of Special Education Hall. Aaron was much happier and content during this last year.

In January 2006, Ms. Goodman observed Ms. Pickens saying some very inappropriate things to Aaron. Ms. Pickens said to Aaron, "Your mother's on crack.." She also heard Ms. Pickens say to Aaron, "They (his parents) don't care about you." She observed Ms. Pickens make loud noises and slap the table very loudly to get the kids to flinch.

Ms. Goodman went to see her boss, Ms. Reddick, the cluster nurse. Also present was Ms. Meadows, head of Student Health Services. When Ms. Goodman told them what she had seen, they looked at each other and shook their heads. They told Ms. Goodman that they had problems with Ms. Pickens before. They told Ms. Goodman to go to the principal, Ms. Boyd.

When Ms. Goodman went to Ms. Boyd, Ms. Boyd said," Don't tell me Melanie's doing it again." Ms. Boyd said this before Ms. Goodman had told her what she had seen. Ms. Boyd told Ms. Goodman that she would take of it. Ms. Goodman told Ms. Boyd that if it happened again, she would go to Ms. Meadows. Ms. Pickens was very guarded with Ms. Goodman after that.

Ms. Goodman thinks that Ms. Pickens is not stable enough to be with the special education students. Ms. Pickens loses her temper with the kids. Ms. Pickens is a ticking time bomb. She needs counseling, something like Anger Management. She needs close supervision, and she needs to work only with higher-level children.

Statement of Paula I). Merritt, former 1ST, Special Education Department, Hopewell Middle School: (Exhibit I)

Ms. Merritt was interviewed on July 6, 2007 in a conference room at the Cherokee County Public Library.

Ms. Merritt was the 1ST for Hopewell Middle School during the period August, 2004 through May, 2007. She was in charge of the Special Education Program at Hopewell Middle School. Ms. Merritt became aware of a problem with Ms. Pickens' behavior toward Jake from the beginning. the Fall of 2004.

During the school year 2005/2006, Nathan Conway, a custodian at the school, came to Ms. Merritt and told her that he had seen Ms. Pickens mistreat Jake by putting her foot on him on consecutive days. Nathan Conway was very upset.

The next day, Ms. Merritt went to Ms. Boyd and told her of the incidents that Mr. Conway had seen. Ms. Boyd called Mr. Conway into her office and degraded and intimidated him so badly about the report that he felt afraid of losing his job. He then recanted his report.

Ms. Boyd said to him, "Do you want to put this in writing?", knowing that Mr. Conway cannot read or write. It was a well-know fact in the school that Mr. Conway had help from the teachers and Ms. Merritt to fill out the official forms he had to file with the Fulton County School System. Ms. Boyd got Nathan's supervisor and bought him into the office and also gave him a "talking to" with Nathan present.

The teachers and para pros used to come to Ms. Merritt with reports of inappropriate behavior on the part of Ms. Pickens. In March, 2007, Ms. Kay Kendrick, a speech teacher came to Ms. Merritt and told her that she was very disturbed with the fact that Ms. Pickens was passing gas on a child . Ms. Merritt went to Ms. Boyd immediately with the report. Ms. Boyd said, "If it's not in writing, it didn't happen." Ms. Boyd told Ms. Merritt to get Ms. Pickens and bring her to the office. Ms. Boyd then told Ms. Pickens when she entered the office, "I'm so sorry. It looks like they're picking on you again." Ms. Boyd took no further action. Ms. Merritt told Ms. Boyd that Ms. Kendrick did not want her name known if nothing was going to he done. Ms. Boyd had released the name of a person making a report on Ms. Pickens before. Then the person whose name had been given out would get different treatment on the hall.

Toward the end of this school year, Ms. Baugh, a teaching assistant to Ms. Pickens, asked to be removed from Ms. Pickens' class because of the things that she had seen Ms. Pickens do in the classroom.

The assistants would bring a verbal report to Ms. Merritt on things that they had seen Ill Ms. Pickens' classroom and the manner in which she was treating the students. Ms. Merritt would take the reports to Ms. Boyd, who took no action. Ms. Boyd created an atmosphere of intimidation at the school.

The assistants began to be afraid of losing their job if they continued to report incidents. They could see that they had made reports, but nothing was done. Ms. Boyd told Ms. Merritt. "If they're causing problems, we don't need them here." She was talking about the assistants reporting incidents about Ms. Pickens' behavior.

During the school year 2005/2006, one of the assistants, Ms. Baugh or Ms. King, came to Ms. Merritt with a report that Ms. Pickens had hit Jake in the head with a camera the day before. Ms. Merritt took the report to Ms. Boyd with no recommendation. Ms. Boyd talked to Ms. Pickens who told her that the camera had "slipped." Ms. Boyd took no further action.

Ms. Boyd feels that everything is over dramatized, if it is not an issue of interest to her. Ms. Boyd swept the reports that Ms. Merritt took to her of the incidents on the Special Education Hall under the rug. She would take no action on these reports.

On May 22, 2007, Ms. White and Ms. Tallant told Ms. Merritt of the incident the day before with Jake. Ms. Merritt told them, "We can't sit on this. We have to go together to talk to Ms. Boyd. When Ms. White and Ms. Tallant went with Ms. Merritt to Ms. Boyd's office on the incident, Ms. Boyd said. "This is the first time I've heard of anything (meaning a tangible report or credible evidence)." Ms. White called her on that, saying that Ms. Boyd was incorrect and that she, herself had bought reports of Ms. Pickens' behavior to Ms. Boyd before, and that Ms. Reddick had written up a report on Ms. Pickens behavior with Jake. When Ms. White would not back down, she forced Ms. Boyd to take it seriously and take action, i.e. call in the school social worker to begin the process for an investigation.

Ms. White had referred to the incident during the school year 2004/2005 in which Ms. Reddick had written a long letter to Ms. Merritt about Ms. Pickens' behavior and treatment of Jake. Ms. Merritt had taken the letter to Ms. Boyd. Ms. Boyd called Ms. Pickens into the office, and showed the letter with Ms. Reddick's name on it. Ms. Boyd took no further action. Ms. Merritt called Ms. Pettis and told her of the incident. A social worker did conduct an investigation, but Ms. Merritt has no knowledge if DFACS was called. She has no knowledge if the incident was further referred to Human Resources.

After the incident withJake spreading, his feces all over his face, hair and clothes.
Ms. Boyd said to Ms. Merritt, "I don't think Jake will be ill, he was eating his own feces."

Ms. Merritt was qualified for an assistant principal's position, and she applied for that position at Hopewell Middle School during the school year 2006/2007. Ms. Boyd called Ms. Merritt into her office and said ''Why don't you just have babies and enjoy your present job?" Ms. Boyd had given Ms. Merritt an excellent job performance evaluation in the school year 2005/2006 saying, "You do everything perfectly."

Ms. Merritt applied for another assistant principal's position in Cherokee County. After the interview, her husband told her that, if she did not get the position in Cherokee County, she could not go back to Hopewell Middle School, because the stress was too much for her.

Ms. Merritt felt that Ms. Boyd created an atmosphere of intimidation at the school.

Statement of Stacy L. White, Special Education Department Head, Hopewell Middle School: (Exhibit J)

Ms. White has been a Special Education teacher since August, 1997. She has taught Special Education at Hopewell Middle School since August, 2005. Ms. White became the head of the Special Education Department at Hopewell Middle School in August. 2006.

At 2:50 p.m., May 21, 2007, Ms. King told Ms. White that Jake was across the hall from Ms. Pickens' classroom by himself with the door closed.

Ms. White went with her students to put them on the bus about 3:10 PM. Ms. Baugh remarked of the stink on the Special Education Hall as they passed through it. When they came back, the stink was worse. Ms. White asked Ms. Sosebee about the smell, and Ms. Sosebee told her that Jake had been in the Rifton Chair. Ms. White then heard that Ms. Pickens was cleaning Jake up in the shower.

On May 22, 2007, Ms. Tallant [old Ms. White that Jake had been sitting in the Rifton Chair in the Adaptive PE room with the door shut for quite awhile on May 21, 2007. No one had been in the room with him during this period of time. Ms. White did not approve of this practice. She would not have done that if Jake were her student.

Starting in October, 2006, Jake was put in that room by himself with the door closed about five times a week. This procedure of putting him in that room by himself is only legal if the technique is written up in his Individual Education Program (IEP). The IEP has to be agreed upon among the teacher and the parent with the parent signing off on that technique. In this case, this technique was not in Jake's IEP. That means that Ms. Pickens is not covered since n0 amendment had been made and signed.

Ms. Pickens would leave Jake over there for hours at a time. Ms. White talked to Ms. Pickens several times during the school year 2006/2007 about this practice.

In the Fall of 2006, a bus driver (woman, name uniecalled) reported Ms. Pickens for roughing up (pushing down) a Special Education student. Ms. Pickens had to go to Ms. Boyd's office for discipline. Ms. White was in the office with Ms. Boyd for that meeting. Ms. White has no knowledge of any further action or formal record of the incident.

In the Fall of 2005, Ms. White reported Ms. Pickens to Ms. Merritt, the 1ST, for roughing up Jake. Ms. White saw Ms. Pickens kicking Jake. Ms. Pickens then picked Jake up and threw him on the steps of the bus. Ms. White reported this incident to Ms. Merritt. With Ms. White present, Ms. Merritt called Ms. Pickens into her office and told her that this behavior was unacceptable. Ms. Pickens acknowledged the facts of the report and said that she might have been too rough.

Early in May, 2007, Ms. White and Ms. Sosebee met with Ms. Pickens informally and discussed her behavior. They told her that her behavior was unacceptable, too aggressive, and to abusive verbally and physically. They told her that several people had reported her behavior. Ms. White told Ms. Pickens that she needed to seek professional help, Anger Management counseling, or that Ms. Pickens needed to get another job in the Special Education field. Ms. Pickens refused to get another job.

Earlier, in the school year 2005/2006, Ms. White reported several incidents concerning Ms. Pickens' behavior to Ms. McBritt who was the department head during that school year. Ms. McBritt told Ms. White, "We're aware of it" and she ignored these reports from Ms. White. Ms. White got discouraged when nothing was done about these reports, and she quit reporting incidents to Ms. McBritt. Also during that same school year. Ms. King told Ms. White about an earlier incident in Ms. Pickens' classroom where she threw a camera at Jake and hit him in the head. Ms. King was in the room at the time and directly observed the incident. Ms. White is not aware of any action being taken on that incident.

Ms. White cited another example of Ms. Pickens' unacceptable behavior and techniques with the Special Education students. Ms. Pickens has a student named Garrett Lee who is a severely impaired child intellectually. He would soil on himself and make a high-pitched scream when he got frustrated. Ms. Pickens would get in his face, about 1-2 inches away, and scream back at him with the same tone and intensity. Ms. Pickens called it "Scream Therapy." Ms. White, a trained Special Education teacher, has never heard of that technique.

When Ms. White was the department head during the last school year, she saw Ms. Pickens kick Jake when she would swing her leg about I to 2 feet before she made contact with Jake. The kick was strong enough to cause Jake some pain, because he would flinch and cry out. Ms. Pickens also pushed her students up against the wall face first and hard enough that their feet would be off the ground.

Ms. White had a series of counseling sessions with Ms. Pickens about this behavior. However, Ms. White did not write any of these counseling sessions down, because she didn't think of it, and no one ever suggested it to her. She had already gotten discouraged, and she had the impression that Ms. Merritt and Ms. Boyd did not want to deal with the problem.

When Ms. Tallant and Ms. White went to Ms. Boyd about the incident on May 21, 2007, Ms Tallant said that she thought that Jake may have ingested some of his feces, and Ms. Boyd said that he would not get sick, because it was his own feces. Ms. White got into an argument with Ms. Boyd. Ms. Boyd claimed that she was not aware of the situation with Ms. Pickens. Ms. White called her on that statement, saying that she herself had told her several times about Ms. Pickens.

Ms. White did not like working at Hopewell Middle School during this last school year. She had lost a child by miscarriage during the school year 2005/2006 because of the stress at Hopewell Middle School. Ms. White's doctor confirmed this diagnosis about losing her child due to stress on the job. Ms. White was determined not to lose another child. She felt that she did not get a lot support from the school administration, specifically Ms. Boyd.

Ms. White does not think that the Special Education teachers in Fulton County get enough training on restraint techniques and behavior management. Ms. White had gotten this type of training in Forsythe County when she was teaching Special Education there.

Statement of Susan M. Tallant, Special Education Teacher, Hopewell Middle School: (Exhibit K)

Ms. Tallant was interviewed on June 29, 2007 in a private office at Hopewell Middle School, Alpharetta, GA.

Ms. Tallant has worked at Hopewell Middle School as a Special Education teacher since January, 2007. She plans on working there next year. She has worked as a Special Education teacher since August, 1994.

On May 71, 7007, her assistant, Amanda Mathis, was not feeling well and she went home about 11:00 AM. Ms. Tallant had four students by herself.

About 1:50 p.m., Ms. Tallant took her students and left the classroom to walk around. They got hack to G Hall about 2:30 PM and got everyone back in the room. Two students had to go to the restroom. Ms. Tallant asked Judy Massey, next door in Ms. Pickens' room to watch her students while she went to the restroom herself. Ms. Tallant was gone about five minutes.

She was returning to her classroom and was passing Ms. Sosebee s classroom in the middle of the hall when Judy Massey asked her to look into the Adaptive PE room across the hall from Ms. Tallant's classroom. Ms. Tallant looked into the room and saw Jake in the Rifton Chair in a recline position with the tray in front. Jake was covered with feces on his face, clothing, and feces was on the chair and carpet. Ms. Tallant does not know how long Jake was in the room by himself.

Ms. Tallant smelled a strong, "awful" odor, so she closed the door to her classroom. Ms. Pickens opened the door and asked her to watch her students, so Ms. Tallant took Ms. Pickens' students into her class. Ms. Pickens and Ms. Massey cleaned Jake up about 2:50 p.m. The stench continued to be awful, so Ms. Tallant took all the students out to the bus area and had them sit on the bench seat until they boarded the bus.

About 3:15 p.m., Ms. Tallant went back to her room and shut the door. Ms. Tallant left school about 4:00 p.m., which was earlier than normal because of the stench on the hall.

The next day, she went to Ms. White the department head of the Special Education Department for the school, her supervisor. She told Ms. White what had happened the day before. She told Ms. White that a student should not be left in the room alone. She and Ms. White then went to see Ms. Merritt, the 1ST for the Special Education Department for Hopewell Middle School. Then, all three of them went to Ms. Boyd's office. Ms. Boyd was shocked. Ms. Boyd called the school social worker to get the process started.

Ms. Tallant had seen Ms. Pickens leave Jake in a room by himself several times, and the door was always closed. She has witnessed Ms. Pickens being rough with Jake. He moves slowly, is stubborn and refuses to do things. Jake plops down on the floor in the front hall when he arrives at school on the bus. Ms. Pickens will take her foot and nudge Jake to get up. Then, she uses her knee and foot against him and nudges him. She does this almost daily. She was unnecessarily rough with Jake. She would shove her body against him and grab his harness. This constitutes physical abuse and is excessive.

Amanda Mathis, one of the assistants witnessed an incident between Ms. Pickens and one of her students during a Community Day outing at the local Target store. One of her students had started -yelling at the checkout and beating himself on the head. Nis. Pickens sat him down on the sidewalk outside the door of Target and got right up in his face and started screaming at him, mimicking him while the people passed them on the way to the entrance to the store. Ms. Tallant has also witnessed Ms. Pickens screaming the same way at another student named Garrett, on the bus.

Statement of Stephanie D. Sosebee, Special Education Teacher, Hopewell Middle School: (Exhibit L)

Ms. Sosebee was interviewed on July 2. 2007 in a private office at Hopewell Middle School, Alpharetta, GA.

Ms. Sosebee has been a Special Education teacher for six years. She started teaching at Hopewell Middle School in August, 2004 when the school first opened.

On May 21, 2007, Ms. Massey came into Ms. Sosebee's classroom and informed her that Jake had a bowel movement. Ms. Sosebee went down the hall to the Adaptive PE room where Jake was covered with feces. Feces was also all over his chair, tray and on the carpeted floor. Ms. Sosebee almost gagged from the terrible smell. Ms. Sosebee took her students outside about 3:00 p.m., because of the smell. Ms. Pickens and Ms. Massey took Jake to the bathroom to clean him up and then started cleaning up the room.

Ms. Pickens puts Jake in this room by himself and with the door closed about one time a day toward the end of the school year. His bad behavior was increasing. Jake would be in the room off and on during the entire day. Whenever he was in this room, he was by himself with the door to the room closed. Jake's bad behavior is because he is an attention seeker. He is unique in that behavior.

Ms. Sosebee has never seen Ms. Pickens hit Jake. Jake would plop himself on the floor. Ms. Pickens would nudge him with her foot and knee. Ms. Sosebee would not do that sort of thing. It looks bad to the other students passing in the hall. Besides, it does not work. Ms. Sosebee would tell Ms. Pickens, "That didn't look good." Ms. Pickens would be real apologetic and reply, "I get so frustrated."

Ms. Pickens did not always have control over her anger. Ms. Sosehee recommended to Ms. Pickens that she get some Anger Management classes or get another type of work with Special Education. All the assistants on the hall said they did not want to work with Ms. Pickens. When the roster was being made up for the school year 2007/2008, all the assistants said, "Hell no." when asked if they would work with Ms. Pickens. Some of the assistants said they would quit and look for another position before they would work with her. Finally, Ms. Baugh said she would give it a try.

Ms. Sosebee thinks that Ms. Pickens was involved in some type of incident at Holcomb Bridge School during: the school year 2002/2003, while she was teaching for her first year. However, Ms. Sosebee does not know any of the details.

When Ms. Pickens came to Hopewell Middle School, her behavior and aggressive techniques with the students began a downhill spiral. She has lost the respect of all the adults on the Special Education hall. The last two weeks of school were very tense.

Statement of Calendra Denise Baugh, Special Education Assistant, Hopewell Middle School: (Exhibit M)

Ms. Baugh was interviewed on June 29, 2007 in a private office at Hopewell Middle School, Alpharetta, GA.

On May 21, 2007, about 1:45 p.m., Ms. Baugh left her classroom with two students to take a walk. Both students were impaired, so she takes them for a walk most every day. As they were leaving, Ms. Baugh noticed an odor as they were leaving the hall to go outside. As they were leaving, Ms. Baugh noticed Ms. Massey in the hall.

They walked around the building and returned about 2:05 p.m. They entered the building through the front door and proceeded back to the Special Education hall. As Ms. Baugh entered the hall with her students, she asked Ms. Massey about the odor. Ms. Massey replied that Jake had a bowel movement. Ms. Massey had on latex gloves. Ms. Baugh also noticed Cindy Eitmann cleaning but, the had smell was still present.

Ms. Baugh worked as an assistant to Ms. Pickens from August, 2006 until November, 2006. During that time, she worked with Jake on a daily basis. Jake was a good kid, but had behavior problems because of his severe impairment. He can not talk, but he understands the people who are talking to him. His feet turn inward, making it difficult for him to walk. He will often throw himself on the floor and just sit there. When he comes to school on the Special Education bus, he can not get on or off the bus without help.

While Ms. Baugh was working in Jake's classroom in the Fall of 2006, she saw Ms. Pickens put Jake in the room across the hall at least three times a week. Jake was always by himself with the door closed. Ms. Baugh had a good rapport with Jake. She could get Jake to get up from the floor when he had plopped down. Jake would often grab some girl's hair, but he would let it go if Ms. Baugh asked him to. Ms. Baugh thinks that Jake does not understand why he is in the room by himself.

Ms. Baugh has seen Ms. Pickens kick Jake several times a week. During the period she worked for Ms. Pickens, she saw Ms. Pickens kick Jake about 20-30 times. This kick was a nudge-type of kick; however, it was usually done in the common area of the school, like the front entrance hall after Jake came from the bus. Ms. Baugh told Ms. Pickens, "That's not right." She got no response from Ms. Pickens.

Ms. Baugh reported these incidents to Stacy White, the lead teacher in Special Education. Ms. Baugh never said anything to Ms. Boyd. Ms. Merritt called Ms. Baugh into her office in October, 2006 and asked her what she had seen and heard.

During the Fall of 2006, while Ms. Baugh was working with Ms. Pickens, she saw her hit Jake one or two times because he was not doing his work. This hit was on his shoulder or arm. Jake would react with his typical anger scream. Ms. Baugh reported these incidents to Ms. White. Ms. Baugh never saw any official action taken against Ms. Pickens.

Ms. Pickens had another student, Aaron Hatcher, whom she also mistreated. Aaron was severely impaired, he could not talk and he had a feeding tube. He cried a lot when he was frustrated or in a uncomfortable position. in November, 2006, after Ms. Baugh left Ms. Pickens' class, Ms. Baugh was in the Adaptive PE room with Ms. Pickens and her class. Ms. Pickens would put Aaron in the room across the hall by himself with the door closed and leave him there until he cried himself out. Ms. Pickens put Aaron in that room about two times a week and she left him there by himself for one to two hours each time.

Ms. Baugh witnessed other inappropriate behavior on the part of Ms. Pickens. She had a student named Cally Murray. Cally was blind and mentally impaired and could not talk. When Cally got into a loud situation, she'd get upset and give out a quick scream. Ms. Pickens would get right up against Cally's ear and scream very loudly into her ear. Ms. Baugh told Ms. Pickens to stop, but Ms. Pickens did not, saying this technique was "Scream Therapy." Cally would always react by screaming more and crying.

During the time that Ms. Baugh worked in Ms. Pickens' class, she saw Ms. Pickens go over to Jake, turn her buttocks into the student's face about I to 2 inches away and then pass gas into his face. Ms. Pickens did this one time in the four-month period that she worked in her class.

Statement of Judy C. Massey, Teacher's Assistant, Special Education, Hopewell Middle School: (Exhibit N)

Ms. Massey was interviewed on July 2, 2007 in a private office in Hopewell Middle School, Alpharetta, GA. .

Ms. Massey has worked as a teacher's assistant in Special Education since August, 1993. She has worked with Ms. Pickens since August, 2003 when they both were still at Holcomb Bridge. Then she moved with Ms. Pickens to Hopewell Middle School when it opened 111 August 2004.


During the Spring of 2007, Ms. Massey asked Ms. Sosebee and Ms. White to be moved out of Ms. Pickens' class. During the last two weeks of school, May 14 through May 25, 2007, things were very tense between Ms. Massey and Ms. Pickens. Ms. Pickens did not talk to her at all.

In May 2007, Ms. Pickens told Ms. Massey that someone had complained that Ms. Massey had talked too loudly to Alex Williams. This was all according to Ms. Pickens. No one else had said anything to Ms. Massey. Ms. Massey denied ever doing that to Alex Williams.

On May 21, 2007, Jake was in a bad mood. Jake tripped Alex Williams and caused him to fall. He also grabbed a girl's hair. About 8:45 a.m., Ms. Pickens took the whole class to Adaptive Art. Jake also misbehaved in that class. Ms. Pickens took him back to her classroom and stayed with him. She later returned to Adaptive Art for the last 15 minutes.

After Art class, about 10:40 a.m., Ms. Pickens put Jake in the Rifton Chair and put him in the Adaptive PE room by himself with the door closed. Jake stayed there by himself until lunch, about 12:30 p.m. During this entire time, Ms. Pickens did not check on him. This type of treatment of putting Jake into a room by himself with the door closed happened about one time a week. Each occasion lasted at least 30 minutes.

After lunch, about 1:15 p.m., Jake went back to Adaptive PE by himself. Ms. Massey went to check on him about 1:30 p.m., and he was okay. Five minutes later, Ms. Massey went back to check on Jake, and he had had a bowel movement and was playing in the feces. He had spread it on the chair, floor, face and hair. Ms. Massey had to give him a shower to clean him up. He really smelled bad.

This was the second time that he had soiled himself while in the room by himself. This, however, was the worst. As Ms. Massey and Ms. Pickens were cleaning him up, Ms. Pickens said to Ms. Massey, "Don't say anything."

Ms. Pickens has a quick temper. She has told Ms. Massey, "You talk to soft to them." Ms. Pickens had no problem in the school year 2003/2004 at Holcomb Bridge. The problems started in the school year 2004/2005 at Hopewell Middle School and got worse.

Ms. Massey has seen Ms. Pickens smack Jake on the shoulder hut, it was not hard. When Jake would plop down on the floor, Ms. Pickens would take her foot and nudge him in an effort to make him get up.

During the school year, 2004/2005, Judy Reddick complained about Ms. Pickens'
behavior in an incident with Jake. Ms. Reddick put this complaint in writing and took it
to Ms. Boyd. Ms. Massey has no knowledge of the specifics of the complaint. She did

know that Ms. Pickens was supposed to get counseling after that.


Ms. Massey knows of another incident that happened during the school year, 2004/2005. She observed Ms. Pickens throw a disposable camera at Jake and hit him on the head. It hit him hard enough to cause a knot to swell up on his head. Ms. King was also in the room at that time. Ms. Pickens later told Ms. Marshall that Jake had hit his head on a cabinet. Ms. Massey also saw Ms. Pickens turn her buttocks to Jake's face, about 2 to 3 inches away from him and shake her buttocks in his face. Ms. Massey wishes that she had asked to be moved after that.

During the week of May 14, 2007, Ms. Massey talked to Ms. Merritt about Ms. Pickens' treatment of Alex Williams, one of her students. Ms. Merritt told Ms. Massey "Don't say anything about it." Ms. Massey also talked to Ms. White, but Ms. White had no knowledge of any action being taken.

Ms. Massey told Ms. Pickens during the week of May 21, 2007, "You really need some help, like counseling." Ms. Pickens said nothing.

After the incident with Jake on May 21, 2007, and after school let out, Ms. Pickens called Ms. Massey and wanted to take her to lunch and talk. Ms. Massey declined to go to lunch, telling Ms. Pickens that she could tell her anything needed on the telephone. Ms. Pickens told Ms. Massey that she had contacted the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE). She also said that she had contacted an attorney.

Statement of Yasaland L. King, Teacher's Assistant, Special Education, Hopewell Middle School: (Exhibit 0)

Ms. King was interviewed on June 29, 2007 in a private office at Hopewell Middle School, Alpharetta, GA.

Ms. King has worked as a teacher's assistant in Special Education since August, 2004. She has always worked at Hopewell Middle School, and always on the Special Education hall (G Hall). Ms. King worked for Ms. Pickens during the school year 2004/2005, and then, the school changed her to work for Ms. White during the school years, 2005/2006 and 2006/2007. This change came as a result of Ms. King having a disagreement with Ms. Pickens over an incident in her class.

On May 21, 2007, Ms. Tallant's assistant, Ms. Mathis, went home ill about 11:30 a.m. About 1:50 p.m., Ms. King asked Ms. Tallant if she needed any help. As Ms. King walked down the hall to Ms. Tallant's room to ask her that question, she noticed Jake's voice coming from the Adaptive PE room. She was in Ms. Tallant's room about 2 to 3 minutes, and Ms. Tallant told Ms. King that Jake had been in that room "for awhile."


From about 1:40 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., Jake was still there in that room by himself. After 2:30 p.m., Ms. King had to go to the bathroom. When she came out into the hall, she noticed a very strong odor. When Ms. King was taking her kids to get on the bus, she saw Jake in the room, and he had a bowel movement. She saw that he was covered in feces, all over himself, the chair and on the carpet. It was so had that the teachers could not use that PE room the next day.

Jake is usually put into that room by himself on an average of one to two times a week. He is always by himself with the door closed. It is usually because of a behavior problem he has had. Jake does not understand that this is punishment.

In the Spring of 2005, Ms. King was in Ms. Pickens classroom. Ms. Massey was there also. Ms. King was at the computer inputting some data on the students and Ms. Massey was beside her. She heard a noise like a thump or a smack on the head. Ms. King heard Jake let out a moan. She then heard Ms. Pickens say, "Oh shit" and leave the class suddenly. Ms. Massey went over to Jake and then said, "Oh my God, he's got a goose egg on his head." Ms. King turned around and saw the goose egg on Jake's head Ms. Pickens came hack into the classroom with ice. Later, Ms. Massey told Ms. King that another child had bought a disposable camera to class, and it was lying on Ms. Pickens' desk. Jake was misbehaving, and Ms. Pickens picked up the camera and threw it at him. Ms. King, herself, saw the camera lying, on the floor about 1 to 2 feet from Jake.

The next day, Ms. King reported this incident to Ms. Merritt, the 1ST for the Special Education Department of Hopewell Middle School. Ms. Boyd called Ms. King into her office and talked to her about the incident. Ms. Boyd said that if the assistants saw anything, they should report it. Ms. Boyd never explained to Ms. King how she found out about the incident, since Ms. King had already reported the incident to Ms. Merritt. Ms. Pickens found out that Ms. King had reported her, and Ms. Pickens' attitude toward Ms. King changed. Ms. King is not aware of any other action being taken on her report.

In February, 2004, Ms. King observed Ms. Pickens to pick up Aaron Hatcher out of his wheelchair and slam him on the vinyl wedge. The wedge was made out of foam and covered by vinyl. This action scared Aaron. In fact, he would get scared and tense every time Ms. Pickens came near him.

Jake hates to walk because it is difficult for him. Ms. King saw Ms. Pickens kick Jake on a regular basis. Jake would plop down on the floor and Ms. Pickens would kick him. Her foot would travel about one to two feet before contacting Jake. Ms. King saw this about four to five times a week. Jake's reaction would be to whine. No one else ever-kicked Jake. The other assistants could get Jake to get up by talking to him.

Ms. King has seen Ms. Pickens purposely irritate Jake. He would be fine, and Ms. Pickens would do something to get Jake started. For example, she would go over to him and purposely shake her buttocks in his face. She has also seen Ms. Pickens pass gas into his face. She would do this about one or two times a week. Things would get kind of personal between Ms. Pickens and Jake. Ms. Pickens would not let the other assistants help with Jake. Ms. Pickens would get offended if someone else would get involved with Jake.

Early in 2004, Ms. Pickens could handle Jake and get him to do things. However, their relationship degraded to the point that Ms. Pickens could not get Jake to do anything.

During the Summer of 2006, Ms. King worked with Jake during Summer School. He was fine. One day, Ms. Pickens came to Summer School and was surprised that Jake was behaving so well.

When Ms. Pickens was working with Jake during the school year 2004/2005, Jake would get angry and take a bowel movement in the classroom. He would then take the feces out of his pants and smear it on his face and chair. Ms. King saw Jake do this two times during that year.

Ms. King had an interview with Ms. Pickens when she was going to work with Ms. Pickens as her assistant. During this interview, Ms. Pickens said to Ms. King, `Tye had other black assistants before, and they were sorry." Ms. King responded, "Are you saying that all black people are sorry?' Ms. Pickens did not respond. After that, Ms. King felt uncomfortable working for her. She was scared of losing her job.

In the school year 2006/2007, Ms. White told Ms. King that Ms. Pickens had told her that Ms. King was a snitch. Ms. King replied, "if you work on this hallway long enough, you'll see why."

Statement of Amanda L. Mathis, Teaching Assistant, Special Education Department, Hopewell Middle School: (Exhibit P)

Ms. Mathis was interviewed on July 9, 2007 in a conference room at Hopewell Middle School, Alpharetta, GA.

Ms. Mathis has a two-year degree in Early Children Education and is certified in Special Education. She has also taken extra courses in the subject. She has been a teacher's assistant in Special Education for six years.

Ms. Mathis has seen Jake in a room by himself unsupervised with the door closed. lie
was in that room about three times a week. Usually, Jake is in this room before 10:30
a.m., when snacks are served. He comes out for snacks and then goes hack into the room

after lunch is over at 1:10 p.m.

Ms. Pickens could not handle Jake. Jake is smart enough to know what he could get away with.

Ms. Pickens also had a child named Aaron Hatcher for two years, 2004/2005 and 2005/2000. She also put Aaron in the room across the hall by himself and unsupervised with the door closed. Aaron is severely impaired and cried a lot in Ms. Pickens' class. When he cried, she would put him across the hall. Ms. Mathis knows Aaron' family, and she knows that Aaron does not cry at home. Aaron was changed to Ms. White's class in the last school year, 2006/2007. Aaron cried a little, but would stop after Ms. White or one of the assistants check on him to find out if he as hot, needed repositioning or had wet his pants. Once that condition was taken care of, he stopped crying. That implies to her that Ms. Pickens did not even try to find out what was bothering him.

During the time that Ms. Pickens had Aaron in her class, she would write notes to his parents that Aaron cried all the time. His parents got upset, because he did not cry at home.

Ms. Mathis was a teacher's assistant helping with Jake while he was in elementary school. He was not a problem and did not cry at all. Ms. Mathis told Ms. Pickens that Jake was not a problem, but Ms. Pickens did not want to hear it. Ms. Pickens treats her assistants as being beneath her, and she does not take any advice from them.

Ms. Mathis related an incident between Ms. Pickens and Jake that was very embarrassing. The Special Education teachers take their students out into the community once a week on what's called CBI. In the first part of May, 2007, the Special Education Department took their students to Target in Northpoint Shopping Center.

One of Ms. Pickens' students, Garrett Lee had a habit of making a little scream and hitting himself on the nose when he gets agitated. During the shopping part of the Target visit, Garrett was fine. Ms. Mathis took her students over to the clothing department to show them clothing. When she got there, Garrett was there with Ms. Massey. As Ms. Mathis was leaving with her students, she heard Garrett crying. Ms. Massey was with him and she got him to stop. However, Ms. Pickens came over and took Garrett away from Ms. Massey and started working with him herself. Garrett started crying again and hitting himself on the nose.


Ms. Pickens took him outside by the front door and sat him down on the concrete sidewalk even though there was a bench right there. Ms. Pickens then got into Garrett's face and started screaming at him in a very loud voice. People coming and going from the Target entrance were passing right by them. Ms. Mathis was so upset that she took her students and put them on the bus so they would not he associated with that embarrassing scene and get upset themselves. Later, Ms. Mathis talked to Ms. Tallant and Ms. White about the incident.

During the last week of school, the school administration was making up roster assignments for the coming school year. Ms. Mathis heard that she was going to be put with Ms. Pickens. She went to Ms. Boyd and told her that she would quit before she would work with Ms. Pickens. Ms. Boyd agreed to leave her with another teacher. Ms. Baugh finally agreed to work with Ms. Pickens but, she said that if she saw anything inappropriate, she would report it right away.

Ms. Mathis cited another example of Ms. Pickens' inappropriate behavior and techniques. If a child does not complete his work before lunch, for example, complete sorting the colored objects in a bucket, Ms. Pickens will not allow the child to go to lunch. Instead, she will keep the child in the classroom and make him a peanut and jelly sandwich. Ms. Mathis thinks that this is neglect, because the child is entitled to have a proper lunch.

On April 25, 2007, the kids from the Special Education Department went to a Special Olympics event at another school. Alex Williams, a child with cerebral palsy, was a participant. Alex participated in the 50-meter walk and the softball throw. Alex has difficulty walking and tires easily. When they left the event, Alex had to walk a long way back to the bus. When the bus arrived back at Hopewell Middle School, Alex was so exhausted, he could not get off the bus. Ile needed someone to offer him an arm to lean on to help him walk. With this arm, he would have been fine. However, Ms. Pickens would not allow anyone to help Alex with an arm. She just left him on the bus. Ms. Mathis offered Alex her arm and helped him to get off the bus and to walk back to the classroom. Ms. Pickens was very upset with Ms. Mathis about her giving Alex help.

Ms. Mathis worked with Alex when he was in elementary school, and she was familiar with his Alex can not walk with his backpack, because it throws him off balance, and he falls. However, Ms. Pickens makes him carry his backpack. She grabs the backpack and shoves it back toward him with enough force that it has caused him to fall over on the ground. Ms. Mathis has seen this happening about two times a week.

Alex Williams responds well to praise, like clapping when he is able to do something. Ms. Mathis would clap for him when he walks from the bus hack to the Special Education hall where his classroom is located. When she does that, he walks faster and gets to his classroom on time. Ms. Pickens has never used this technique, even though this same technique is used at Alex's home by his parents. Ms. Pickens later told Ms. Mathis that she is forbidden to use this praise technique. Ms. Pickens said, "We don't clap for him."

Statement of Cindy J. Eitmann, Teaching Assistant, Special Education Department, Hopewell Middle School: (Exhibit Q)

Ms. Eitmann was interviewed on July 2, 2007 in a private office at Hopewell Middle School, Alpharetta, GA. Ms. Eitmann has been in Special Education for 14 years.

During this last school year, Jake was getting progressively more aggressive and showing more had behavior. On May 21, 2007, Ms. Eitmann saw Jake in the Adaptive PE room about 2:45 PM. He was in the Rifton Chair and he had feces all over himself, his clothes, the chair, tray and the carpet. Jake had been in this room by himself with the door closed off and on that day since 10:30 AM.

Ms. Massey told Ms. Eitmann about Jake's making a mess on himself. Ms. Eitmann helped out while Ms. Pickens and Ms. Massey took Jake into the shower to clean him up. The smell was terrible.

Ms. Pickens has put Jake into the room before by himself with no supervision and with the door closed. This happened to Jake about one time a week. This technique was also used on Aaron Hatcher as well as Garrett Lee. Ms. Eitmann does not like that practice at all. She spoke with Ms. Sosebee and Ms. White about it. They talked to Ms. Pickens about it, telling her that it was inappropriate. No other teacher in the Special Education Department used this technique. There is always someone with the child if they have "time-out." Ms. Eitmann would not work with Ms. Pickens, because she does not like her methods. Ms. Pickens always lets the assistants know that she is the boss and a step above them. She would not encourage the assistants to provide any input.

Jake is quite difficult and has a lot of behavior problems. He is the type of child that would benefit from a school that used the North Metro Program with behavior problems. Ms. Pickens started getting worse in the school year 2004/2005. Her voice got louder, and she started pushing the kids. She gets angry with them, and then gets rough with them. Ms. Eitmann heard Ms. Pickens call one of the kids, "Little Shit.''

him with her foot and nudge against him. She would then get frustrated and lose her temper. Ms. Eitmann never said anything directly to Ms. Pickens about these practices.


Ms. Pickens was disciplined several times while teaching at Holcomb Bridge Middle School. Ms. Dottie Pettis talked to Ms. Pickens about her behavior and treatment of the kids. Ms. Donna Faulkner also talked to her. While at Hopewell Middle School, both Ms. Boyd and Ms. Merritt talked to her.

Other teachers have also talked to Ms. Pickens. Both Ms. Sosebee and Ms. White talked to Ms. Pickens about her inappropriate behavior. They told her during the last few weeks of school that no one on the hall wanted to work with her.

Ms. Pickens needs counseling and training. She also needs Anger Management classes in dealing with other people. If Ms. Eitmann had a child with special needs, she would not want the child to be with Ms. Pickens.


The investigation determined that the allegation of Melanie Pickens engaging in abusive and neglectful treatment of Jake Marshall is supported by witnesses' testimony and evidence. The investigation determined that the May 21, 2007 incident was the most recent occurrence in an extensive pattern of inappropriate and possible criminal conduct Melanie Pickens subjected upon her special education students.

Susan Tallant reported the May 21, 2007 incident to administrators primarily out of her concern that Jake Marshall could have become seriously ill by contracting E.coli from eating his feces.

We were notified that DFACS has also substantiated the allegations against Melanie Pickens and she has obtained legal representation. it appears DFACS only investigated the May 21, 2007 incident but, criminal charges most likely will he filed.

The investigation determined a clear pattern of inappropriate behavior on the part of Melanie Pickens which rises to the level of criminal assault and battery on a student. Witnesses provided testimonial evidence of observing Melanie Pickens throwing a camera and striking Jake Marshall in the head. The blow resulted in a physical injury with a knot surfacing on Jake Marshall's head. There were two subordinate teacher assistants in the classroom at the time and, Ms. Pickens instructed the assistants not to say anything. Ms. Pickens got an ice pack to place on Jake Marshall's head injury. However, the injury to Jake Marshall's head was later discovered by his mother and she inquired with the school and Melanie Pickens for an explanation. Significantly, there is evidence that Ms. Pickens falsified an official school document in writing a report on the injury. Ms. Pickens falsely stated that Jake Marshall hurt his head by falling off a pad and hitting his head on a cabinet when in fact, he was hit in the head by a camera thrown by her.

The investigation determined evidence that 'Melanie Pickens engaged in abusive and neglectful treatment of several other students in her care, in addition to Jake Marshall. These students suffered from severe mental and physical impairments and were non­verbal. Her inappropriate behavior and treatment ran the gamut from being too rough with special education students, to sheer meanness. Witnesses gave testimonial evidence of Melanie Pickens positioning her buttocks in very close proximity to the faces of students. She then proceeded to shake her buttocks in their faces and even pass gas. She would also get in the faces of students and mimic their screams. She referred to this technique as "scream therapy". None of the other special education teachers used this alleged therapy technique and no one had knowledge of this being a teaching technique.

More than one associate spoke with Melanie Pickens concerning her conduct and behavior with students. Ms. Pickens was known to have a quick temper and colleagues suggested that she pursue anger management treatment or some other form of counseling.

By all indications, Melanie Pickens inappropriate behavior and actions with special education students were well known by all members of the Special Education Department at Hopewell Middle School and the principal, Ms. Boyd. The awareness of Ms. Pickens actions went back at least two years. In addition, there are reports that Melanie Pickens had similar difficulties at her previous school prior to 2004 and she received disciplinary actions.

The response, or non-response, of reports to administrators of Melanie Pickens inappropriate actions is an issue of concern. Numerous teachers, teacher assistants and members of the Special Education Department at Hopewell Middle School stated that incident reports and their concerns were brought to the attention of the principal, Frances Boyd.

It appears Frances Boyd, the principal of Hopewell Middle School, did not take any of the reports seriously about Ms. Pickens' inappropriate behavior and rough treatment of the students. She went so far as to state, "If it's not in writing, it didn't happen." On numerous occasions, she received the initial reports, but she took no action to require that written statements be made, or to have the school's social worker to conduct an investigation to determine the credibility of the reports. Teachers and assistants claimed to have been intimidated by Ms. Boyd and were concerned about losing their jobs.

The assistants and teachers appear to have acted properly in reporting these incidents to their next-higher supervisors. The reports were passed up the chain to Ms. Merritt, the 1ST who relayed them to Ms. Boyd. This lack of action allowed Ms. Pickens to continue working in Special Education long after the situation should have been corrected.

Witnesses assert that Ms. Boyd also engaged in tactics of intimidation to discourage these reports from coming forward. The atmosphere of intimidation and the fact that nothing was ever done about the reports discouraged the assistants and teachers to the point that they basically quit reporting. Ms. Boyd took action on the May 21, 2007 incident upon her supervisor being notified.











Hopewell Middle School



Home: 770-992-1425 - Cell: 678-427-3876

Jake Marshall NAME OF PARENT

Judy Marshall


Melanie Pickens


Allegation states that Ms. Picking was witnessed to have hit Jake on the back of the head with an open hand. "Jake Marshall is a student in Melanie Pickens' class_ As I am sure you are aware, he is difficult to manage physically, due to both his size and his impairment. He is loud and disruptive in class, requiring intervention frequently. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for him to be hit, usually in the head, with an open hand. I have personally witnessed this on many occasions, by both his teacher and at least one of the assistants. The student frequently cowers and covers his head when he feels he is about to be disciplined. He usually responds by ceasing, at least temporarily, the disruptive behavior I have not witnessed any type of injury, such as red marks, bruising or swelling, although the hitting at times seems quite hard."

Additional concerns include calling the students "little shits" using the word "fuck" in their presence, taking a student out of the classroom setting when she passes gas and spraying disinfectant on her, ("Another incident which was reported to me, and later witnessed, involves Rephcka, also in the same class. When she has "passed gas" in class, she has been (rather harshly) removed from her seat, taken into the hall, sprayed with Lysol, especially around her bottom, and made to stand in the hallway. I have never felt that she understands what the offense is.") and finally, restraining a child with spasms (using a Velcro strap to hold his spasming arm to his wheelchair). Allegation states that Ms. Pickens remarked, "I know we are not supposed to restrain kids, but we won't call this a restraint," prior to wrapping the Velcro around the child's arm.



STAFF WITNESSES Judy Massey, Classroom assistant

Judy Reddick., Special Needs Nurse Yasaland King, classroom assistant

Jennifer Lina, Physical Therapist


Ms. Pickens admits to having hit Jake on the head twice this year, No physical injury was identified. This appears to indicate poor choices and discipline strategies. Internal monitoring and intervention is recommended. See attached summary for additional details.








Stephanie Schuette


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Franc-es M. Boyd Cynthia A. Cook, Assistant Principal

Principal William Thompson, Assistant Principal

December 2, 2004 Dear Melanie,

I was very concerned over two specific allegations made about strategies you used with two of your students. One allegation was that you hit a student (.1) on more that one occasion on the back of his head with an open hand. The other was that you put a student (R) in time-out and sprayed her with Lysol when she passed gas. As you know, I turned this matter over to the school social worker who recused herself from the case due to the close working relationship she has with you. Another social worker then investigated. After doing an investigation, the social worker did not refer the case to DFAC. The case then became a personnel issue.

On November 18, 2004, you and 1 had an informal conversation with Mr. Thompson about the situation. At that time we directed you to cease using both of the above strategies immediately. You also wrote a statement admitting to hitting J but denying the allegations concerning R.

On December 2, 2004, you and I had a formal conversation with Dottie Pettes to again discuss the allegations and to formulate a remediation plan to assure that you would never repeat these behaviors with any children. You reported that you had already begun to try other strategies with J. You are not using any physical strategies, but instead you are giving verbal cues and sign language to redirect his behavior. You also reported that this approach was effective.

On December 2, 2004, Ms. Pettes and I asked you how we could help you handle frustration that resulted in the inappropriate strategy. You suggested that you realized your actions were not appropriate and that you felt you had arrived at alternative strategies on your own. Ms. Pettes has met with the IST to plan some team building activities with you. It is required that you build a more collegial relationship in your department with the other teachers, including but not limited to the itinerants. I expect you to meet regularly with the all of the personnel that serve your students so that you will implement an immediate team strategy for each child. For the rest of the school year, you -need to submit to me advance notice of each meeting and a written summary of what transpired.

13060 Cogburn Road Alpharetta, Georgia 30004 Phone 678-297-3240 Fax 678-297-3250

You were furthermore informed that this letter of concern would go into a personnel file at the school. A copy will also be sent to Dottie Pettes and Ralph Lynch. Any other incidents of using physical contact and/or methods used to demoralize a student would certainly result in a serious consequence which could include non-renewal of your teaching contract with Fulton County.

Also included in your file will be a copy of your statement on the matter and a copy of the social worker's final report.



Frances Boyd, Principal

C: Dottie Pettes

Ralph Lynch, Interim Director of Secondary Personnel Vicki Denmark, Area Superintendent

I have received a copy of this letter in a face to face conference on December 7, 2004.

tiktb Ll. _____

Melanie Pickens