News 12 investigation: Why fired custodian was hired in the first place

By: Hope Jensen Email
By: Hope Jensen Email

News 12 at 11 o'clock/ Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- A News 12 investigation is shining the light on a flaw in the hiring policy at Richmond County Schools. Parents want to know how a fired custodian was allowed to keep working in local schools.

Two students have accused Reginald Price of touching them inappropriately at CT Walker and Murphey Middle School and they're not the only ones. An Aiken county student made the same accusations in 2011 when Price worked in Aiken County Schools.

"I want the board to know that they failed. They failed," said Mary Lambert, the mother of an alleged victim at last month's board meeting. "That could've been anybody's child, but it was mine."

In March 2012 her 13 year old daughter accused custodian Reginald Price of touching her inappropriately and she wasn't the first or the last. Reginald Price is accused of the same thing at CT Walker last month and in at Aiken Middle School in 2011 which left many wondering why he was hired in the first place.

"When this individual was first hired, board policy was followed and we did a Georgia Background check," board member Jimmy Atkins told News 12s Hope Jensen.

We obtained his employment application from January 2012 when Price applied for a substitute position. According to board policy, all he needed was a state background check.

"We see now that that was not all that needed to be done," said Atkins. "You're talking [about] a person who worked in another state and I even believe was a resident of another state."

Atkins says that's a big issue saying, "If a person was looking to get into our school system and cause harm to our students, if they did not have a criminal record in Georgia, but they did elsewhere right now we're an open book."

It's a policy officials say is now being changed.

"Whether you're coming into our school system as a substitute or a full time, regular employee you need to go through the same process," said Atkins.

Price also lied on his application answering no to a question about being fired or under investigation for unlawful activity. Under the employment history section, Aiken county schools is missing.

"If you don't know, you don't know to check that as a reference," said Atkins.

When Price was hired on full time in July the charges were still pending, but school officials say because it was a misdemeanor charge of 3rd degree assault and Price attended a pre trial intervention program, they didn't look into it any further. That charge was noted on hiring forms and he was cleared. Officials say the only reason they would have looked into it any further was if HR came back with questions.

Mary Lambert says she still has a lot of those. "What happened in 2011, I know you can't discriminate and deny him a job because nothing was there, but when my child came to you and told you what happened you should've started looking right then."

Atkins says that fact is concerning but the allegation in 2012 was investigated thoroughly. Patrick Clayton, who was chief at the time, told me the original investigation was 17 pages long with interviews and video.

The case has been turned over to the District Attorney.

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