Melton continues quest

Published 11:02 am Friday, August 31, 2012

WINTON – Wayne Melton continued his monthly ritual here Monday.

Melton has appeared before the Hertford County Board of Education on a regular basis since his teen daughter was allegedly propositioned for sex in exchange for a summer job by an employee of the Hertford County Public Schools.

Monday night, Melton said he had done research and he did not believe that employee, Director of Community Relations Ronald Gatling, was covered by state laws regarding personnel. He also said the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation continued to look into the matter.

“I am here one more time,” Melton said. “I was told that Ronald Gatling was protected by the state statues. I found out he was not. He is a free-will employee and the state statutes do not apply to him.”

Gatling was suspended when the incident first came to light, but then Interim Superintendent of Schools Julius Walker reinstated him.

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.”

“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.”

Melton said he had the same questions about the incident he had since the beginning.  He did not elaborate about those questions, but told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald in July what his concerns were.

Accompanied by his daughter and the teen’s mother, Melton said he met behind closed doors on June 25 with the Hertford County Board of Education.

There, he submitted eight questions for the board to answer. Those inquiries included the extent of the investigation into Gatling’s alleged actions; the decision behind Gatling’s eventual reinstatement; if HCPS officials had informed (by means of a letter) the North Carolina Board of Education of the matter; and inquired of how Gatling was able to continue as an HCPS employee while the State Bureau of Investigation conducted their probe of the allegations against Gatling.

On Monday, Melton said he was still asking for the school board to act.

“I want y’all to do the right thing,” he said.

Melton then talked about some of Gatling’s past employment and government service.

“I don’t understand,” he said. “I don’t know what it takes for y’all to do right. Anytime a man would call an 18-year-old girl up and make a proposition – a job for sex, go to bed with me and I’ll give you a job. I don’t think nothing of that, nothing.”

Before leaving, he did say he appreciated the efforts of school board member Dennis M. Deloatch, who he said had answered a question for him.