Reinstatement irks student’s father

Published 9:37 am Tuesday, June 12, 2012

AHOSKIE – The father of an 18-year-old daughter who alleges she was propositioned for sex by an employee of Hertford County Public Schools in exchange for a summer job said he is outraged that HCPS officials chose not to discipline Community Schools Director Ronald Gatling.

Wayne Melton told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald on Friday that the internal investigation conducted by HCPS interim Superintendent Julius Walker along with Ralph Evans, interim HCPS Human Resources Director, fell short in his opinion.

“I do not like or uphold Mr. Walker’s decision to reinstate Mr. Gatling without performing a thorough investigation,” Melton said. “An investigation does not consist solely on written statements and interviews with the accused, the victim and her parents. A thorough investigation would include statements and interviews with other students and contacts of HCPS.”

Gatling, contacted at his office in Winton on Monday afternoon, chose not to address Melton’s comments. Walker was also contacted, but his secretary said he was out of the office until Wednesday.

In a statement made June 1 to this newspaper, Walker said the internal investigation performed on the allegations lodged against Gatling, “did not result in the need for further disciplinary action.” Gatling returned to work the same day following a one week suspension while local school officials looked into the allegations.

“I performed a judicious investigation that yielded no substantial evidence to warrant dismissal,” stated Walker.

Walker added that during his probe into the matter, information surfaced that “shed new light” regarding the incident which warranted the investigation.

“The allegation of misconduct against Mr. Gatling supposedly took place in late March or early April of this year,” Walker said. “That allegation was made by a female high school student who was not on the campus of the high school in March or April. That student finished their course work early and graduated in December. Technically that person is no longer a student of Hertford County Public Schools.”

That statement also proved upsetting to Melton.

“It’s true that my daughter completed her course work in December of last year, but she graduated on May 19 (from C.S. Brown High School),” Melton noted. “Although she was 18 years of age (at that time), she was still a HCPS student.”

Melton confirmed a rumor circulating in the local area regarding the State Bureau of Investigation looking into the matter.

“That’s true,” he said. “As a matter of fact, one (SBI) agent just finished interviewing my daughter and her mother before I came to your office today (Friday).”

Hertford County Sheriff Juan Vaughan also confirmed the SBI’s involvement with the investigation.

“The family came to me with the allegations on May 25 and ask me to investigate,” Vaughan said on Monday afternoon. “In similar cases I’ve asked the SBI to investigate. Being Mr. Gatling is a county commissioner I’ve ask the SBI to come in to determine if any crime has been committed.”

Meanwhile, Melton had one final statement to share with Walker.

“Mr. Walker, you were given opportunity to investigate this matter fully. Once again, as I stated, I disagree with your decision in regards to Mr. Gatling. Therefore I will pursue other legal avenues for justice for my daughter,” he closed.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

email author More by Cal