Staff shake-up at Augusta YDC continues with principal firing

Another Augusta Youth Development Campus employee has been fired as the Department of Juvenile Justice continues a staff shake-up at the facility.


The facility’s school principal, Dr. Brenda James-Ford, was fired for withholding information about a pending ethics investigation in which she is named, DJJ Commissioner Avery D. Niles said in a news release Thursday.

James-Ford, who was hired by the YDC in July, did not report a letter of reprimand she received from another school district involving allegations of grade-changing, which resulted in an ethics investigation by the Professional Standards Commission, Niles’ statement said. The investigation is still pending.

Department spokesman Jim Shuler said that James-Ford’s teaching certificate was checked at the time of her interview and when she was hired but that no issues surfaced. During a review in November, DJJ’s Central Office discovered that an ethics investigation was opened in May, before James-Ford applied at DJJ.

There has been no evidence of grade-changing at Augusta YDC, Shuler said.

DJJ’s regional principal, Jerry Jones, has been reassigned to the Augusta YDC while the department searches for a replacement, whom they expect to hire by the end of the month.

On Wednesday, the agency announced the firing of YDC Lt. Ricky Smiley for actions related to a Dec. 2 assault between youths at the facility and the suspension of Interim Director Melvin Womble because of a pending investigation. The details of the investigation involving Womble were not released.

“The commissioner promises that DJJ will fast-track similar dismissals and use corrective measures wherever needed,” Shuler said at the Augusta facility Thursday. “The commissioner acknowledges that there has been a recent history of personnel changes at Augusta YDC, and he says they will continue until we get it right.”

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