Charges of sexual battery landed a Dougherty County middle school principal in jail over the weekend. The arrest follows the resignation of a Westover High School teacher over allegations of sexual misconduct with a student.
"We will watch the investigation and deal with it according to the merit of the complaint," said R.D. Harter of the Dougherty County School System. Harter says he's still gathering information concerning the arrest of Southside Middle School principal Joey James.
He did confirm that James was the subject of a sexual harassment complaint filed by a fellow Southside staff member â" the same staff member involved in the new allegations. "The Dougherty County School System looked into that complaint and has filed charges of sexual battery - two counts of sexual battery - against that principal," said Harter.
James turned himself into authorities over the weekend. He was booked into the Dougherty County Jail and is now free on $2,200 bond. Harter says the charges are misdemeanors and that James remains an employee of the school system â" but he did not know if James showed up for work on Monday.
"It's very important that the parents and students know that their safety is our concern," said Harter. "We won't allow this kind of behavior in the school system."
The arrest of Mr. James comes on the heels of a Westover High School teacher that was forced to resign over allegations of sexual misconduct with a student. The cases are raising concerns about the kind of environment to which Dougherty County school children are being exposed.
"Most teachers and educators should be held more accountable than anybody else because they're in constant contact with our children, grandchildren," said Bill Crawley. "I feel like they should be held to a little bit higher esteem."
"If they're not equipped to adhere to the standards that they're putting themselves in by accepting their positions, they really need to just stay away from the school system all together," said Colette Orr.
"By them being held to a higher standard, we expect more of them," said Stanley Gaines. "Those are the people we're looking for and I'll say again, we're looking for them to take charge, to be in charge, to have a standard."
Southside Middle School Principal Joey DeWayne James faces two counts of sexual battery.
James surrendered to police over the weekend.
He was booked into the Dougherty County Jail and is now out on bond.
We will have more information on this story as it develops.