During a Tuesday news conference, Bibb County school Superintendent Romain Dallemand admitted to significant “gaps” in the school system’s response to an alleged rape at Northeast High School Jan. 19.
Seven teenagers at Northeast have been implicated in the incident, in which a 16-year-old special-needs student was allegedly raped and sodomized for about an hour in one of the school’s restrooms.
School officials still have not released an initial police report in the case, as required by Georgia law. That report was filed Friday, but school officials have spent much of the ensuing time poring over it and redacting information before releasing it.
Bibb County campus police took charge of the investigation initially, but on Tuesday, Dallemand said the investigation has been turned over to the Macon Police Department.
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Dallemand told reporters he wasn’t aware that Macon police weren’t part of the investigation until Monday.
That was just one of several gaps that Dallemand and school officials acknowledged Monday.
David Gowan, the director of risk management for the school system, said after the news conference that he wasn’t brought into the loop on what was happening with the investigation until Monday. Before that, Gowan said he only had been getting updates through the media. Gowan’s department is responsible for the safety of Bibb County students, ranging from violent crimes to storm responses.
“I was not involved until (Monday),” he said. “Obviously, there was a gap. Not everything was handled as well as it could’ve been.”
The school system still hasn’t sent a formal letter to the Northeast parents and students addressing the episode. Alisha Allen-Carter, assistant to the superintendent, said she isn’t aware of when such a letter might be sent. She said she also isn’t aware of how many Northeast parents have tried to contact the school system or the school itself about the incident.
Dallemand said he and other central office administrators have been working to investigate the gaps in the system’s response.
Dallemand said that an additional campus police officer has been assigned to Northeast, as well as psychologists, counselors and social workers to help any students and staff members who need support.
“Since the alleged assault, the district has reviewed the policies and procedures at Northeast High School, and across the district, that impact student safety,” he said. “We have also taken the necessary steps to address the use of protocol and communication by school district personnel.”