Roger Jackson’s Motivating Youth program can reopen, state says

ATLANTA -- A Macon after-school program that was shut down for serious rule violations related to discipline can reopen under a new agreement with state regulators.

The Motivating Youth Foundation signed a consent agreement with the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning on July 8.

Founder Roger Jackson, a former NFL player, will play a minimal role at the center in the coming months, according to the agreement.

The state opened its investigation of the center in the spring after it fielded an allegation that Jackson had spanked an 8-year-old girl with a belt “multiple times” in April. Jackson, 56, was subsequently charged with misdemeanor battery in the incident.

Under the agreement, if Jackson clears a criminal background check, he will be allowed to spend a maximum of one hour per month at the center when children are present. He can spend that hour only speaking to children in a classroom setting -- and only if parents and other staff members are present.

“Our top priority is the health and safety of our state’s young learners,” wrote DECAL spokesman Reg Griffin the day after the two sides signed the agreement.

The center, located at 905 Main St., will also post signs saying that no physical punishment is allowed on the premises.

State rules prohibit corporal punishment at child care centers.

Workers at the center will also take extra training in classroom or behavior management in addition to required annual training.

The order will also cost the center a $5,000 fine.

The state shut down the program May 4. The center appealed its closure on May 5. An administrative law judge upheld the closure May 8, and the center has remained closed.

It is scheduled to reopen in August, coinciding with the start of the new school year, said Virgil Adams, Jackson’s attorney.

“He will still be a part of Motivating Youth. He will still be at the center,” Adams said.

Jackson is pleased with the agreement, Adams said, since his main focus was making sure the center stays open.

Since Jackson still has a criminal charge pending against him, he won’t be discussing the case, the attorney said.

In April 2016, the state will review the center’s operations and decide if it is willing to modify the cap on Jackson’s time on the premises.

Staff writer Oby Brown contributed to this report.