August 19, 2005
New documents released today by the Columbia County Board of Education show a high level of frustration. Most of it aimed at former Riverside Principal Jeanie Hill, who was demoted after failing to immediately report allegations of abuse. News 12 gets reaction from Jeanie Hill.
Jeanie Hill, once a rising star in Columbia County’s school system, is now at home without a job. Demoted to assistant principal last month, Hill retired completely just last week, she says, to take a job at Augusta State University. Hill says that ASU backed off the job offer after media reporting on the move. It’s just one issue Hill touched on while speaking outside her Martinez home with News 12.
Hill says, “I am very concerned about [Superintendent Tommy Price’s] lack of support of administrators. His first comments weren’t, ‘we will be backing her until the final investigation is complete.’ His first comments were, ‘This is inexcusable and will be fully investigated’.”
Hill was demoted for failing to immediately report allegations of abuse by substitute teacher Billy Cleveland. But a grand jury did not find sufficient evidence to prosecute Hill.
In a six-page ‘letter of reprimand’ obtained by News 12, price lays out his case against Hill. Price writes that Hill gave inconsistent statements and failed to meet immediately with Cleveland.
“Your failing to act to remove this substitute teacher…subjected all of your students to potential continuing risk of harm,” the letter reads.
Later, Price writes, “Your assertion of ignorance of policy or procedure is disappointing.”
And showing the extent of his frustration, Price says, “I am mystified by your indifferent…approach to this case as I am by your belated attempt to divert blame from yourself.”
Jeanie Hill says she is stunned by the lack of support in this letter. Hill maintains she got instructions from HR Director Connie Davis to interview the children involved and get statements. And she adds that the Board of Education continues to destroy her reputation.
You’ll recall that Cleveland was indicted recently on seven counts of child abuse, stemming from allegations at Riverside and Brookwood Elementary.
Brookwood Assistant Principal Barbara Gleitsmann was also indicted for failing to report child abuse. Gleitsmann remains at Brookwood.