About 20 protesters demonstrated outside the Richmond County Board of Education on Tuesday, demanding transportation for alternative program students and answers about why a janitor arrested last week on sex charges was permitted in schools after similar allegations last year.
Richmond County Council of PTAs President Monique Braswell said the board has failed students and parents on these issues.
“We want justice,” Braswell said. “How did we allow this man to infiltrate our system?”
C.T. Walker Traditional Magnet School janitor Reginald L. Price was arrested last week on charges involving two girls at two schools.
School Safety and Security Chief Alfonzo Williams obtained arrest warrants after allegations that a 13-year-old C.T. Walker student was touched inappropriately this month.
The department also reopened an investigation into allegations from another 13-year-old girl from 2012 while Price was working at Murphey Middle School.
Price had been arrested in 2011 on a charge of assault and battery in the third degree after an Aiken Middle School student alleged Price touched her on the buttocks. Aiken Department of Public Safety Sgt. Jake Mahoney said Tuesday that the case was never prosecuted.
Mary Lambert, the mother of the alleged Murphey victim, said she believes the board put students at risk by not prosecuting Price in her daughter’s case and allowing him to remain in the school system.
Lambert said her daughter told a teacher Price rubbed her breast, back and behind in early 2012. A school safety officer conducted an investigation, but the incident was never criminally prosecuted, Lambert said.
After a C.T. Walker student made similar allegations this month, an investigator contacted Lambert at work to get more information on her daughter’s case.
“It wasn’t handled well at all,” she said. “If the investigator that has this now found my daughter’s case under a pile of papers, nothing was done. They just thought my child was lying.”
Price was fired Monday, but Superintendent Frank Roberson said he wanted to wait to provide details about Price’s case until a full investigation was completed.
Rico Jackson, the president of the Barton Chapel Progressive Neighborhood Association, said the board of education has not adequately addressed Price’s case or the lack of transportation for students attending the district’s alternative program.
Students expelled from their zone schools have the option to attend the Alternative Education Center at Lamar to stay on track for graduation.
However the students coming from all areas of the district are not provided transportation to get to the center off Walton Way.
The student services committee discussed the issue in March, but a motion to provide buses to the school failed. Board members said the service would be too costly and transportation is a privilege lost when students misbehave.
Jackson said that is a grave injustice, and as a result, several students are not attending school at all because they do not have a way of getting there.
About 20 children and adults held signs and chanted demands for change outside the board building before its monthly meeting.
Jackson said if their pleas are not heard, there is an alternative.
“Not only are they not in school, these kids are on the streets,” Jackson said. “The bottom line is this: if we can’t change things here, we’ll change them at the next election.”