Porn on school board member’s computer. Why is it always Clayton?

As an AJC editorial writer for 12 years, I spent a lot of time writing about the problems of Clayton schools and its dysfunctional school board. So, it saddens me to read accounts of continued problems with the adults running the system, which has many dedicated teachers and committed students.  (I saw them at the many public hearings and rallies that were held during the loss-of-accreditation days.)

Clayton also has some of the weirdest stuff — stuff that takes away from the core mission of education and makes me wonder about the caliber of its school board. And this is an example.

Board member Trinia Garrett was accused of  downloading 400 pornographic pictures to her district-issued laptop. There was a hearing Monday on whether Garrett’s actions constituted an ethics violation, but the 5-2 vote was not sufficient to sustain a violation.

Garrett contends that she did not download the porn and that the computer was out of her hands at times being fixed, but an audit could easily tell whether the downloads occurred while the computer was out of her control.

If the downloads occurred while Garrett had possession of it and thus had responsibility for the county property, this represents a serious and troubling transgression. Either Garrett downloaded the stuff or she was not paying attention while someone else used her county-issued machine.

Either way, I would be troubled if I were a Clayton parent about her stewardship.

The AJC had a good story Sunday about other problems with the Clayton board. The story notes: About a third of the district’s 62 schools have failed to meet federal benchmarks that track academic performance and graduation rates, yet observers of the nine-member school board say it seems preoccupied lately with personality clashes, sanctions against fellow board members and bizarre accusations.

And the most bizarre is this porn story:

According to the AJC:

Even though the board voted 5 to 2 that Garrett had violated the ethics code, policy requires a two-thirds vote (six) of the whole board of nine for the action to have carried, school district attorney Glenn Brock said. Garrett and board member Michael King recused themselves from the vote.

“I’m just happy it’s over and we can get focused back on the children,” Garrett said.

The two-hour meeting at times was contentious and confusing as the board, its attorney and Garrett’s attorney sparred over procedures and whether a hearing officer should hear the case. Board member Jessie Goree expressed concern over the hearing officer’s presence.

Meanwhile, Garrett’s attorney, Robert Mack, argued that the proceedings were “inherently unfair” because the school board brought the complaint and now sat in judgment in the hearing. “It simply defies all method of due process,” he said.

Once the hearing was under way, the board heard from a forensic computer expert who said he discovered sexually explicit pictures on Garrett’s computer while investigating another matter. Computers and cellphones also were checked. The investigation uncovered no wrongdoing in that case , Jim Persinger of PM Investigations Inc. said.

The search however zeroed in on Garrett’s computer, which, Persinger said, had 400 pictures of pornography as well as rap music.  He noted the data could not have been downloaded accidentally.

“These were intentional acts,” Persinger said. Garrett’s attorney asked whether someone else could have used the computer if Garrett had logged on and left it unattended. Persinger said that was a possibility.

Garrett denied she downloaded the pornography and recounted how she had had repeated problems with her laptop throughout last year and sent it into the district’s information technology department to get it fixed.  At one point, Garrett grew irate by Brock’s line of questioning. She fired back, indicating that she had been called into a meeting late last year about the allegations and asked to resign.

Mack noted that Garrett is believed to be the first person to be charged under Georgia’s new Model Code of Ethics and he admonished the board to give “serious thought” to the type of ethics codes they’ve adopted.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

46 comments Add your comment

carlosgvv

January 24th, 2012
10:33 am

Why is it always Clayton? We all know the answer to that. We also know that it would be considered the height of politicial incorrectness to actually say it.

Frankie

January 24th, 2012
10:37 am

THe board obviously does not have a chain of custody form requiremtne and can not prove the allegations. Who was the person to fix the commputer, why have they not talked to him/her. How long was the computer out of her hands and do the down loads match the times she said she did not have the computer.

THis is too easy an issue to resolve…

liberalefty

January 24th, 2012
10:41 am

@carlossv

its because theyre black? well i guess whites NEVER NEVER NEVER EVER download porn…

tim

January 24th, 2012
10:46 am

Clayton County…………It’s how we do………

Porn, rap music, disfunctional school board, looney sheriffs.

The Dekalb of the south metro.

Maureen Downey

January 24th, 2012
10:47 am

@tim, I can assure you that rap music and looney sheriffs are plentiful throughout the state. And based on the profits of the online porn industry, I think we can assume that so is porn.
Maureen

nelson

January 24th, 2012
10:51 am

I must admit, I am somewhat unfamiliar with Clayton County. It has Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in it. Clayton County has a population of 273,000 people. I will wait until the column has a lITTLE MORE interest.

Maureen Downey

January 24th, 2012
10:52 am

@frankie, I agree with you that this would seem easy to document. Her lawyer is maintaining that she could have left her computer on and someone downloaded the porn, but I would like to know the time it takes to download hundreds of images. (It would take my computer a week.) Is she suggesting that this happened in the county offices while she went to get a cup of coffee? If she is suggesting that this occurred in her home when she left her computer unattended, it still falls on her. If a county employee brings home a county car and her teen takes it for a joyride and damages it, that employee is responsible.
Maureen

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Concerned Clayton Resident

January 24th, 2012
11:13 am

@carlosgvv
I’ll say it – and I am a black woman. I’ts because they have incompetent blacks are running the school board. Until my fellow Clayton County residents stop voting for someone based on skin color versus qualifications, this will continue to happen.

Another Math Teacher

January 24th, 2012
11:21 am

Maureen Downey : “but I would like to know the time it takes to download hundreds of images. (It would take my computer a week.) ”

Not even close. Pictures on the web aren’t going to be the ones from a 7 Mega pixel camera.

Since these were on the internet, they would be optimized most likely. 10 per MB. That works out to around 40 MB total. On a typical DSL connection that’s less than 4 minutes. On a 10 Mbps cable connection that’s under 40 seconds.

Even if there were a full gigabyte of downloads it would be less than 2 hours on DSL.

“but an audit could easily tell whether the downloads occurred while the computer was out of her control.”

Not true. There is no reliable way to prove the downloads occurred while she (did/did not) have possession.

Maureen Downey

January 24th, 2012
11:24 am

@Another, No dates at all of downloads? There would be history/dates of when the porn sites were accessed and viewed.
So, if her computer was in the hands of the tech team for three days, there is no way to see if images were downloaded during that timeframe?
Maureen

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Another Math Teacher

January 24th, 2012
11:35 am

Maureen Downey: “So, if her computer was in the hands of the tech team for three days, there is no way to see if images were downloaded during that timeframe?”

If I were a tech doing something like that, I would change the time on the machine, then do what I wanted. Then change it back afterwards. Techs can set you up if they want to do that. They could also change the times on the files. Even a bestbuy employee could do that.

Hell, if you turned around too long I could drop files on your computer in your possession with just a flash drive. The claim would then be that you deleted the download history.

Some browsers also have a private session feature so that no history is saved.

Too many ways to set up a person. Too many ways to hide what you do. Can’t be proven either way.

Digger

January 24th, 2012
12:20 pm

They just like to see graphically what is being done to their students.

Dr. Proud Black Man

January 24th, 2012
12:36 pm

@ Another Math Teacher

Ever here of Occam’s Razer? Of course she could have been set up BUT realistically they are probably her pics and YES there is a way to find out. If they want to is another question.

Another Math Teacher

January 24th, 2012
12:43 pm

‘Dr.’ Proud Black Man: “and YES there is a way to find out.”

Oh, do share.

tim

January 24th, 2012
12:52 pm

@anothermathteacher…….We are glad you told us how computers can be compromised.

The way “teachers” are today, I would expect you would know how to do it…………..

Dr NO / Mr Sunshine

January 24th, 2012
12:54 pm

Why indeed. Im sure Jesse, Al and Useless Lowery would place the blame on society in lieu of where else it may belong. And to that end Im fine with it because poverty and stupidity begets the same along with a nice little jail sentence.

More power to ya Clayton County!!!

Dr. Proud Black Man

January 24th, 2012
12:56 pm

@ Another Math Teacher

Google is your friend. You do know how to use it don’t you?

Another Math Teacher

January 24th, 2012
1:03 pm

‘Dr.’ Proud Black Man: “Google is your friend. You do know how to use it don’t you?”

Ah, so you don’t know.

Beverly Fraud

January 24th, 2012
1:09 pm

“As an AJC editorial writer for 12 years, I spent a lot of time writing about the problems of Clayton schools and its dysfunctional school board.”

No denying that has been a “unique” cast of characters. Yet within that is a cautionary tale, in that we saw what REAL DAMAGE can be wrought by a so called “functional,” even “award winning” board at APS.

Ironically the board did its best work when it was deemed dysfunctional by SACS, when they FINALLY stopped marching in lockstep to try to politically cover Beverly Hall and crew.

However, given who Clayton hired to “lead” them (how can an ex-Sarge be SPINELESS on discipline?) one would have to say the Clayton board’s “best work” is somewhere off in the UNforseeable future.

Are you serious?

January 24th, 2012
1:24 pm

Obviously, she was setup. That said, last time we checked APS had problems that were taken care of with cash to SACS. At least the Teachers in CCPS are honorable people and don’t resort to changing test answers. This problem is nothing compared to the cover up for APS! SACS should have removed their accreditation and we all know it. Maybe SACS should be eliminated.
BTW, feel free to give the current CCPS Chief Administrator his walking papers. Let the teachers teach and get out of the way man! He should be fired before 1 Teacher is released.

Frankie

January 24th, 2012
2:21 pm

@maureen…understood…i can tell you that to down load a picture of any type takes only seconds witha good windows 7 or even earlier computer.
I can download pictures from my camera over 50 pictures in less than 10 minutes.
I understand that if the computer was at her home and someone in her home did this then yes she needs to be held accountable, exposed,fired and prosecuted.
With all the passwords and safe guards we have on computers it is inexcusable for someone to not know what is on there computer.

Dr. Proud Black Man

January 24th, 2012
2:38 pm

@Another Math Teacher

zzz

Beverly Fraud

January 24th, 2012
2:44 pm

Adamson, who became chair a year ago this month, said Heatley has brought stability to the district in his two and a half years in the job.

“He has gained the respect of SACS,” she said. “He has brought us through the most unstable economic time I have ever known this school district to face. He has extraordinary financial capacity. He understands the financial issues we face. He’s been able to lead us through this.”

Stability? Isn’t that what they use to praise Beverly Hall for?

And if you have to list as chief among your “accomplishments” gaining the respect of SACS…

posterchild

January 24th, 2012
2:59 pm

As a former student AND employee of CCPS, I get really tired of seeing just about any news covering the district, because I can almost always guarantee it’s going to be embarrassing. I know that some people (Concerned Clayton Resident, for example) will say that it’s due to blacks only voting for blacks, and not voting due to a candidate’s qualifications. I think what it really boils down to is that you can’t simplify the problem like that. Clayton County is a majority African American county. Most white residents are probably older, no longer have children in school (and their grandchildren probably do not attend Clayton County schools), and do not have the interest or ability to run for and serve as a BOE member. Clayton also has a sizable Asian and Hispanic population, but with these groups, you run into language barriers, citizenship issues, etc. Given these demographic factors, there really isn’t a large pool of potential candidates to draw from.
Throw voter apathy and low voter turnout into the mix, and you have history repeating itself with each BOE election. It’s a vicious cycle, and I don’t know how to change it. With real estate prices so low, I’ve contemplated buying a home in Clayton just to be able to run for office there, but that is a pretty big gamble. All I know is that both my parents graduated from Clayton County, and I feel that I had excellent teachers and principals as a child there. Having been a part of the system as an adult, though, is a different, less hopeful story.

Maureen Downey

January 24th, 2012
3:02 pm

@posterchil, Voters had some stronger options but, in some cases, went with the weakest choice. Not sure why.
Maureen

posterchild

January 24th, 2012
3:06 pm

Maureen, I think a lot of the voting operates much like high school student council/homecoming elections. If a candidate goes to your church or was a member of your fraternity or sorority, then they MUST be a great person for the job. I once had a parent tell me that she planned on voting for a certain candidate because he “looked good”, and because an opponent seemed “uppity”.

yes i am worried

January 24th, 2012
4:33 pm

Posterchild has summed it up well and the truth is that is exactly what happened in DeKalb this past election cycle as well. Shame for all those black children — that their parents are either making such poor choices or just not participating.

Dr. Proud Black Man

January 24th, 2012
5:38 pm

@ yes I am worried

The same can be said for all those white people voting for republicans who are doing their best to GUT PUBLIC EDUCATION.

catlady

January 24th, 2012
5:59 pm

Did they search this person’s house/home computer/cell phone for further evidence of porn?

Like I said before...

January 24th, 2012
6:06 pm

The vetting process is not the best in Clayton County we can say that with confidence. It’s been about 15 years since the great migration from the torn down Atlanta projects for many of the occupants of Clayton County. White flight took it’s toll and many degree carrying black families moved out as well. What you are left with is a group of disenfranchised folks who are not savvy at playing the education game and it leads to instances such as this.

Dr. Proud Black Man

January 24th, 2012
6:07 pm

@ Catlady

Legally they couldn’t. She allegedly downloaded LEGAL porn not child pornography.

posterchild

January 24th, 2012
6:32 pm

@yes i am worried

I taught in DeKalb for several years before going to Clayton. The similarities are disheartening.

redweather

January 24th, 2012
7:33 pm

See this link: http://www.komonews.com/news/tech/69518857.html

Maybe that’s what happened.

Dr. Proud Black Man

January 24th, 2012
7:56 pm

@redweather

The cases sited in the article were exclusively child porn. This woman was caught with plain ole dirty pictures.

Teacher's Pet

January 24th, 2012
8:33 pm

How about a blog about why the morale of the teachers in Clayton is non existent?

Dr NO / Mr Sunshine

January 24th, 2012
8:53 pm

Look at all this BS, excuse making, molly codding and utter disbelief that such a fine upstanding citizen could do such a thing.

“It was a setup.” Yes it was. This woman setup all you “belivers”, led ya down the primrose path and strait over the cliff you all willingly jumped.

Enjoy the continued ride down…

PS…thanks for the laughs!! :)

say what?

January 24th, 2012
10:36 pm

Must be a slow news day that this story is reported and then blogged. If the issue was dropped, then what problem does the ajc have with CCSS?
Forever has eyes on DeKalb, Clayton, and APS, but not one iota of an eye roll to Gwinnett, Hall, Bibb, Spalding, Fulton, Cobb, Rockdale, Newton, Douglas, Paulding, Barrow, Bartow, Fayette, Coweta- all of which are metro Atlanta school systems.
I believe the ajc and WSB needs to fight to find more problems with the other school systems, just as much as they find issues with DeKalb, clayton, and APS.
These 3 cannot be the reason that education is going the way of the Model T- impossible for them to be responsible for ALL of the ills in metro Atlanta education. there is fraud, unjustified teacher bashing, kids smoking in the bathrooms, kids fighting and posting to youtube, and parents behaving badly to go around and not just in the above mentioned three.
I am simply sick and tired of beating these three but claiming it to be news. this is not blog worthy, but hey it brings out the negativity.

Trash talk

January 24th, 2012
10:48 pm

Seriously! Pam Adamson and Ed Heatley are hell bent on the continued destruction of CCPS. Pam your claims that Ed has brought financial stability to the district is preposterous. Back in August the district had to spend hurrily nearly $3 million in federal money because Ed spent the 2010 school year proclaiming the money was his, and he could spend it any way he can…not so true…isn’t that right Ed? In August, the district spent the money on classroom junk instead of using the money to hire staff or to run programs to support better students for the 2010 school year…by November 2011, CCPS ended with 20 schools not making AYP. I guess this got past Pam. Oh, what about the improper purchasing procedures implemented to hire the CC sheriff department to provide SROs….cost $1.4 million? This school year, CCPS still has millions of unspent federal money that should have been spent last year….the clock is running out to spend this money….I guess CCPS will repeat what they did in August….look for round 2….

One more thing….CCPS almost lost million in gifted funds….the state department of education contacted CCPS to tell staff they were in jeporady of losing millions….CCPS still don’t have a dedicated gifted coordinator…yes, the district earned QBE money to pay for a gifted coordinator….I guess these children and their teachers are not important to Pam and Ed….god only knows what is happening with the gifted education program….

Soon Ed will be raving and ranting abount how he has to reduce the budget because CCPS is broke…is CCPS really broke Ed and Pam or do you have any idea how to use wisely the money CCPS has? Ed will pull the wool over board members’ eyes when he presents the budget for approval (remember IB, transportation, athletic directors, PE teachers, alternative school) our members don’t have enough sense to ask probing questions….maybe they do….but Pam will threaten them with claims of “micromanaging”. Really…..

On the academic side…what the hell?…20 schools out of 62 did not make AYP in 2011…a significant increase from the day Ed waltzed into CCPS….I don’t hear Pam talking about this…she is too busy trying to remove all the anti-Ed board members….Pam, why aren’t the kids learning? Oh, I know why….you don’t care about the students…you only care about the power…Also, Pam, can I get a CCPS job, get paid a six figure salary and fail? Yes, just ask Ed….

Let's get ready to rumble

January 25th, 2012
3:09 pm

@ Trash Talk well said. Ed and Pam need to ride off in “unemployment heaven” together. Ed has ruined the CCPS system. Their plan to “get rid” of Trina backfired. The morale of MOST employees in the system is lower than the depths of the sea. We have not had a check in 50 days. Why can’t employees be paid twice a month in 2012? No money for gas and/or incidentals. Ed is not worried. Heck, he has a 6-figure salary and he received a hefty (40,000 dollar )bonus for doing not a darn thing but disenfranchising and infuriating teachers. Yet this is the man that Pam Adamson reveres? Classrooms are crowded to capacity, furnishings need to be replaced. Where is the money? Show the employees the money? Why did Ed “take” the money that was/is rightfully the employees? Why did Diana leave? Oh, she made hundreds of thousand of dollars from a writing program that is collecting dusts on shelves. Clayton’s board members were warned about Ed, but in haste, they hired him without taking heed of the advice from the citizens of Chino Valley. Ed wants to cut teachers’ salaries again. When are Clayton’s teachers going to wake up and speak out? Parents, teachers, and all stakeholders need to demand his resignation. Taking a reduction in salary to buy out his contract is worth the cut in pay. But, maybe that won’t be necessary. Clayton is not that broke.

Ole Guy

January 25th, 2012
6:08 pm

Why do we continue to see evidence of people, within the educational circus, who do not/cannot/will not display a modicum of COMMON FREQUIN SENSE? Recently, it was some “educator” who apparently saw no problem integrating the (highly questionable) “learning” aspects of slavery with math…looked more like elementary arithmetic to me, but that’s another issue. Now, we are seeing yet another idiot, within this very same circus, who cannot seem to exercise any degree of judgement. JUST WHATINHELL is going on within that which passes for a 21st century educational institution? Is everybody frequin nuts, stupid, or just insane?

In the military, when operations become “unglued”, commanders sometimes initiate an “operational stand down”…all flight operations are grounded while command conducts somewhat of a “drop back and punt”, the whole purpose being to uncover the problems bubbling benieth the operational surface, address them, and get back into the air as soon as possible. Continued flight ops, in known conditions which pose a definite detriment to safety, only invite disaster…AND THIS APPEARS TO BE EXACTLY WHERE THE EDUCATIONAL CIRCUS IS TODAY.

SOMEBODY had better gd do something! We’re seening evidence of more and more folks, within that circus, who have absolutely no business being anywhere near the front door of ANY institution of (supposed) learning.

Moose

January 25th, 2012
7:18 pm

As a life long resident of Clayton County I’m discusted with the entire fiasco that is the BOE. As a computer tech teh technicall issues could be resolved and need to. #1 this was a County issued laptop. she is responsible for it. It is hers and hers alone. If this were found in a county office the employee would’ve been terminated. Let’s get something else out of the way. I’m white. There are a lot of highly qualified black educators in this country. Let’s not go down the road of black vs white. Let’s talk about personal responsibility. Our society has taken the approach that they can blame anyone else and it’s ok to not take responsibility for their actions. The entire problem with the school board and the Sheriff is lack of personal responsibility. Man up, or in this case woman up and except the consequences. The saying holds true “if you can’t do the time don’t do the crime”. And for the school board members that voted. Do the leg work.Find out if the violations happened when it wasn’t in the shop. If so then terminate her and the board members that voted not to need to resign. Ethics is a very gray area now a days. It doesn’t need to be.

Maureen is Right from Good Mom

January 25th, 2012
10:22 pm

Regarding the dispute of ““but an audit could easily tell whether the downloads occurred while the computer was out of her control.”

Not true. There is no reliable way to prove the downloads occurred while she (did/did not) have possession.

yes, of course there are ways to determine if the downloads occurred while under her control. Even when you think you’ve erased porn on your computer or any other file, those files are still on your computer and any competent computer forensic specialist can pull them up. It’s not hard and it’s very common and men frequently get fired for viewing porn at work or on their work computer.

There are not only time and date stamps down to the hundredths of a second but audit trails are also created by passwords and user logins. As an example, because we are posting on Maureen’s Get Schooled blog under a monniker and a false email address, people think they are anonymous. That’s not true at all. My laptop is now sending my IP address, my “machine name” to the server which accepts my posts. That server knows that information. Maureen can easily find out who “Good Mom’ really is in very little time.

We are never anonymous. For goodness sake, people hack into the Pentagon’s computer. Of course we can determine when and where and how and for how long this administrator was getting her dirty little “jollies” on the porn site but the real question remains…is the corruption so dirty and cheap that no one will investigate and hire her?

So sad. Stealing playground money today and watching porn yesterday. Our fabulous GA administrators at work.

I need to go to the bathroom. I think I’m going to be sick.

GM

To ANother Math teacher from Good Mom

January 25th, 2012
10:27 pm

YOu wrote “Not even close. Pictures on the web aren’t going to be the ones from a 7 Mega pixel camera. Since these were on the internet, they would be optimized most likely. 10 per MB. ”

Porn is not free. If the teacher paid for it, there is yet another way to audit her…her credit cards.

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