Community reacts to Sego student beatings investigation

By: Stephanie Baker
By: Stephanie Baker

An abuse investigation at Sego Middle School prompts some families to hire an attorney.

Teacher Dr. Maurice Wallace is accused of letting students punish younger classmates by beating them.

Investigators say teachers sent the victims to the eighth grade classroom if they misbehaved for counseling.

Officers suspect the "counseling" meant a beating in a closet by several eighth graders.

Seventh grade students facing eighth grade bullies.

"I don't know what to believe...but I believe it really happened," says Sego seventh grader Jared Gant. He found out about the investigation Tuesday, May 23.

Investigators say teachers sent up to three seventh graders to Dr. Maurice Wallace for behavior counseling.

Wallace is accused of allowing several eighth graders to beat the students inside a closet.

"So far there's no evidence the teachers who sent the students knew this type of counseling they would be receiving," says Lt. Scott Peebles of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.

Charges may not be filed against the seventh grade teachers, or the eighth graders, since they were under the influence of an authority.

Dr. Wallace is under criminal investigation.

"We don't condone any physical contact with a student...and if something like that is going on in our schools, we will put a halt to it," said Richmond County School Board spokeswoman Mechelle Jordan. Jordan says the board finished their investigation May 11, and Dr. Wallace resigned.

But there is a question over whether alleged victims' parents found out soon enough. Jordan says the school board told them Monday, May 22. The parents say they found out from investigators.

"They had no idea the case was being investigated and they had no knowledge of the incident," Lt. Peebles said.

That's why two of the families hired attorney Emerson Gilliard.

"Even a warden at a federal prison don't treat inmates this way...so why should it happen at a middle school?" Gilliard said.

If the allegations are true, family psychologist Dr. Joe Holt says the effects are more than physical.

"At school, the kids will begin to withdraw and relationships suffer."

That is Jared Gant's fear.

"My mom is trying to get me out of the school," he says. "I don't want it to happen to me."

If the Richmond County School Board finds reason to believe the allegations are true, they are supposed to report it to the Professional Standards Commission within 90 days.

So far, the families have not filed a lawsuit.


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