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.”

Augusta YDC's interim director suspended
Injured YDC inmate released from hospital
Panel agrees on juvenile reform recommendations
Augusta Youth Development Campus audit details issues with ex-director, staff
Report shows Augusta YDC deficient in many areas
Department of Juvenile Justice replaces Augusta YDC director
YDC staff delayed search for escapees, request for sheriff's office help
Last YDC escapee caught
YDC case reveals ongoing trouble
Inmate sentenced to 17 years in prison for YDC killing
Topics Page: Augusta Youth Development Campus

More