BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
Greene County Director of Schools Dr. Vicki Kirk gave her first detailed response to alleged incidents at Doak and Mosheim elementary schools Thursday after parents brought their concerns before the Board of Education.
Kirk had earlier declined to share specifics of the incidents with the news media, but Chairman Nathan Brown requested on Thursday that she share a timeline of events from the school system's perspective.
Regarding parent Christan Serrianne's concerns at Doak Elementary, Kirk said that the first incident -- in which Serrianne's daughter was allegedly called a "baby" -- occurred in August 2013, following which Doak Principal Jennifer Teague discussed the issue with the employee, "reprimanded her for her actions, and coached her about proper interactions with the students."
The second incident -- when the student was allegedly called a "brat" -- occurred in January, after which Supervisor Kristi Wallin reached out to Serrianne the following day after becoming aware of the incident via Facebook.
A meeting of school officials and the ESP staff member in question followed, and the worker was presented with a letter of separation within a few days following the incident, Kirk said.
The situation became much more complicated as Kirk presented a timeline for parent Melissa Bryant's concerns about an incident at Mosheim Elementary School, in which her child alleged Assistant Principal Jennifer Whitson kicked him in the back.
Kirk read page after page of the system's timeline of their response to Bryant's concerns and occasional reports of board member Deborah Johnson's involvement.
Highlights of the timeline, according to Kirk, include:
* Mosheim Principal Wendy Carpenter's notes indicating she did not see a mark on Bryant's son's back;
* Carpenter's questioning of another student who had been seated with Bryant's son, and who reportedly said Whitson did not kick him;
* Whitson's demonstration to Bryant's son of a "kick" and a "tap" on a doorframe, followed by questioning him which she had done, to which he reportedly indicated a "tap" rather than a kick;
* Whitson's discussion with Bryant at the car line reportedly including details of what happened the day prior and an explanation of why Whitson was unable to meet with Bryant the day the incident occurred;
* Carpenter's report on the morning of Dec. 19 to Kirk that the Sheriff's Department contacted her to say that a complaint had been filed, but no charges, as well as to report that the deputy told her "the Johnsons had called" the Sheriff's Department about the incident;
* Kirk and Johnson's first telephone conversation about the incident at Mosheim on the evening of Dec. 19, in which Johnson spoke with her about the Sheriff Department's follow-up of the incident;
* Johnson's Dec. 29 reply to a Dec. 20 email from Kirk informing the board of the incident at Mosheim and involvement of the Sheriff's Office, in which Johnson told members the system's reporting of incidents was broken or being subverted, and that she had spoken with the mother prior to Kirk's email and since that time;
* Kirk and Assistant Director Bill Ripley's Jan. 7 meeting with Carpenter concerning areas for improvement and "a proper process for student interview";
* the involvement of area news media, beginning on Jan. 9;
* Whitson's Jan.10 apology to Bryant's son during a formal meeting with school administration;
* a Jan. 11 conversation with Serrianne, in which she reportedly indicated to Kirk that, "We have someone who keeps us informed";
* a Jan. 13 conversation with board member Kathy Austin about the situation to address rumors that Kirk was avoiding Bryant; and,
* throughout the timeline, numerous phone calls among administrators, Bryant and Central Office.
Kirk concluded her statements by saying that she believes Mosheim's administration has appropriately handled the investigation and is working to resolve the issues.