State to hear complaints against SHS teachers

CONYERS - Complaints filed by Rockdale County Public Schools to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission on Jan. 9 regarding Salem High School Band Director Shawn Geiger and Assistant Band Director John Claybrook will be reviewed by the PSC in February.

"The complaints came in, but they did not reach here in time enough for the January meeting," Cassandra Moore, a paralegal with the PSC, said Tuesday. "The committee will vote if there will be an investigation at their (Feb. 14) meeting."

According to the RCPS complaint filed against Geiger, which was released by the school system Friday, he made "inappropriate comments in the presence of students" on Sept. 26.

"Mr. Geiger was conversing with Mr. Claybrook at work regarding sexual relations that he had with his wife," Andra Cherry, a private investigator hired by the school system, wrote in his report dated Dec. 16.

According to a statement given by Geiger on Oct. 26, he said no students were in the closed-door office when he and Claybrook were talking.

"I had no idea that there were any students anywhere in hearing distance of these comments," his statement reads. "If I knew that any student could hear a conversation of this type, the conversation would not have been had."

The allegations came to light when two parents complained to then-Assistant Principal Gloria Jackson on Sept. 27, according to the summary of key factual findings prepared by Cherry. The next day, Jackson notified SHS Principal Robert Cresswell, who then interviewed Geiger. Geiger reportedly admitted he made the comment and Cresswell gave him a verbal warning.

The father of one of the students who allegedly heard sexual remarks submitted a written document to RCPS Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services Craig Dowling on Oct. 23 after raising concerns that Cresswell had not spoken to any other students.

Dowling conducted his own review of the matter, obtaining statements from Geiger and Claybrook and four student witnesses.

The school system also alleged in its complaint to the Professional Standards Commission that a separate incident involving Geiger, Claybrook and a student allegedly took place off campus during the school day. According to the complaint, Geiger reportedly asked the student an "inappropriate" question about that student's sexual activity with another student.

In Geiger's statement dated Oct. 26, Geiger said he and Claybrook went to a gas station to repair the wheels of a band cart.

"I have worked with (the student) as a student for four years now, and I could see that (the student) and (another student) were becoming very close," his statement reads. "I asked, "Are you two sleeping with each other?' leading to my next sentence, "If you are, you had better be careful.' (The student) did not respond to the questions, as I did not want a response."

Dowling completed his investigation into the matters on Oct. 31. In his report, he said he was "unable to confirm the allegations presented in (the parent's) letter of Oct. 23. However, Mr. Geiger admitted using inappropriate language when speaking with Mr. Claybrook. ... Also, Mr. Geiger admitted asking (the student) if (he) had sex with (another student)."

Dowling recommended that Geiger be given a letter of correction and "a clear directive" to avoid using foul language. He also recommended that Geiger refrain from discussing matters of a sexual nature with students.

On Dec. 11, Rockdale County Public Schools Superintendent Sam King requested another review of the accusations against Geiger and hired Cherry.

King refused to respond to further questions from The Citizen regarding Dowling's investigation and the private investigation, calling it a "personnel matter," RCPS Public Information Officer Cindy Ball said Tuesday.

In Claybrook's statement to Cherry on Dec. 12, he said he didn't know the conversation had been overheard by students and he did not remember the office door being open.

"At no time in any of these incidents did Mr. Geiger use any inappropriate language towards or about a student," Claybrook's statement reads. "Conversations involving such language have taken place between Mr. Geiger and I in private conversations behind closed doors. It is not common practice for Mr. Geiger or myself to use profanity in front of students or directly to students."

However, Cherry's report reads that both Claybrook and the student reported "feeling uncomfortable" with the conversation that allegedly took place while off campus.

Claybrook was reported to the Professional Standards Commission for not reporting "possible inappropriate behavior" about the conversation.

According to the complaint forms, both Geiger and Claybrook also were reported to the PSC for taking a student off campus without parental permission.

In response to requests for comment on Friday, Geiger told The Citizen to refer any questions to his attorney, J. Tom Morgan. Repeated calls to Morgan went unreturned as of press time Tuesday.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.