Photo by Corinne Nicholson
CONYERS -- An internal investigation by Rockdale County Public Schools that led to a request for the termination of former Rockdale Career Academy CEO Tim Melvin resulted in his resignation in late February, according to personnel records obtained by The Citizen through an Open Records Request.
Laura Whiddon, director of Human Resources, recommended on Feb. 18 that Melvin be terminated after inappropriate public contact with a subordinate and drinking heavily with other subordinates, including one who is a recovering alcoholic, according to the internal investigation.
"Mr. Melvin admits he has no explanation for why the school district should have any confidence in his judgment as an administrator or why we should employ him," Whiddon wrote in her report. "Despite two prior warnings from his supervisor cautioning him about avoiding the appearance of improper relationships and avoiding fraternization with subordinates while drinking, he has publicly behaved in a manner that is unacceptable as a school leader and has rendered himself ineffective as a supervisor and evaluator of the employees who observed this conduct."
On Friday, Jan. 29, Melvin and several other RCA staff members met at Los Flores Mexican restaurant and then The Pointe bar in Olde Town Conyers, where a witness claimed several RCA teachers regularly gather on Friday evenings, according to documents regarding a meeting between Melvin and RCPS officials on Feb. 17 and other personnel documents.
Melvin admitted having multiple drinks and buying drinks for the group at the bar; he admitted that one of the group members included an employee who is a recovering alcoholic and possibly was served a drink he bought. Melvin was responsible for conducting breathalyzer tests periodically on the employee as a condition of the subordinate's continued employment.
Melvin also admitted giving and receiving public displays of affection, which according to witness reports included kissing and fondling, with another subordinate, a science teacher at RCA, at the bar.
After leaving the bar, Melvin said he took the science teacher to the Holiday Inn Express because she was too drunk to drive, according to personnel records. He said that she told him she didn't want him to take her home. When HR asked him why he didn't call her husband, Melvin stated he did not know. Instead, he checked her into a hotel room, which he paid for and said she later paid him back.
"I helped her to her room and got her settled in," he wrote in a statement. "I talked with her a while and went home."
The teacher said in a conversation with HR on Feb. 22 that Melvin did not spend the night at the hotel with her and she doesn't remember if anything happened between them.
"There has been no inappropriate relationship," she said in the conversation with HR. "If anything did happen between us, I didn't want it to. I just don't remember."
On Jan. 30, the day after the gathering at The Pointe and the same day as the RCPS Technology Fair at RCA, an administrator at RCA told Melvin at the school that the teacher's mother called looking for her.
"(The mother) is frantic because she states her daughter did not come home the night before," according to an HR conversation with the administrator on Feb. 16. "She indicates both she and (the teacher's) husband are extremely concerned because they had not seen or heard from (her)."
According to the conversation, Melvin left to look for the teacher and returned to the school with her, wrapped in a blanket, and said that he found her walking by the side of the road. The following Monday and throughout the week, the administrator noted that the teacher dressed "in a much more stylish manner than is normal for her" and spent "an unusual amount of time in (Melvin's) office throughout the week," as well as several hours on the Feb. 12 snow day.
Melvin told RCPS officials that no inappropriate contact occurred on school grounds or at a school-related function, according to an Open Records Request response from RCPS General Counsel F. Jack Lance.
Before RCPS could terminate Melvin, he submitted a letter of resignation to Superintendent Samuel King on Feb. 23.
"I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to serve as the chief executive officer of the Rockdale Career Academy," he wrote in the letter. "At this time, however, I wish to pursue other interests."
He said he is proud of the work he has accomplished at RCA.
"It is an instructional program that brings great credit to this district and has served as a key driving force in economic development efforts for this region. Over the last four years, we have seen continually rising enrollments (and) ever increasing numbers of students participating and winning at state and national competitions," wrote Melvin. "It is with great pride that I have served the students of Rockdale County."
Melvin had been employed as CEO/principal of RCA since the facility opened on July 1, 2006. He came to Rockdale County after working as a teacher and assistant principal in Garden City, a suburb of Savannah, and as a platoon leader in the U.S. Army.
On March 1, the school board voted to accept his resignation and appoint Miki Edwards, who was serving as an assistant principal for instruction at RCA, as interim CEO of RCA. RCPS is accepting applications for the CEO/Principal position through www.TeachGeorgia.org.
School system officials would not comment on the employment status of the teacher allegedly involved with Melvin. School system policy prohibits an administrator from fraternizing with subordinates.