2012 Top Stories: #5: HCPS employee cleared

Published 10:29 am Thursday, January 3, 2013

WINTON – Charges were made against a public school employee last year.

Despite those charges being cleared, the father of the alleged victim continued his pursuit of the case both legally and with the Hertford County Board of Education.

Community Schools Director Ronald Gatling was suspended by then Interim Superintendent of Schools Julius Walker pending an investigation into claims that he had inappropriately offered a job with the summer enrichment program in exchange for sex.

In the May 24 edition of the News-Herald, the school district said Gatling had been suspended with pay during an investigation, but did not go into detail as to the allegations because of personnel laws.

In the June 2 edition, it was reported Gatling was cleared by Walker, who said the female in question was not a Hertford County Public School student at the time of the alleged incident.

Some 10 days later, the News-Herald reported that Gatling’s reinstatement irked the father of the alleged victim.

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 Gatling.

Wayne Melton told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald in June 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.

Melton went on to say the matter had been turned over to law enforcement officials for investigation. Hertford County Sheriff Juan Vaughan confirmed the involvement of the State Bureau of Investigation.

In the July 19 edition, Melton said he had received a letter from the Hertford County Public Schools about the incident, but was not at all satisfied with the information in the document.

He said the district failed to answer eight questions he posed to members of the HCPS school board.

The father of the alleged victim especially took issue with whether or not his daughter was a student in the school district. He said while she had completed coursework in December, she had not graduated at the time of the incident.

In the Sept. 4 edition, it was reported Melton had returned to the Hertford County Board of Education seeking additional help. He asked for the board to “do the right thing” and said he did not believe Gatling was covered by the state’s personnel statutes.

On Sept. 29, it was reported that Melton had appeared again before the board, this time asking for a new investigation. He said he was dissatisfied with the one conducted by Walker and asked for new Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael D. Perry to conduct one of his own.