Type to search

DeKalb School Board approves paying police whistleblower $1.5 million settlement

Decaturish updates Trending

DeKalb School Board approves paying police whistleblower $1.5 million settlement

DeKalb County School District Administration and Industrial Complex on Mountain Industrial Blvd. in Stone Mountain. Photo by Dean Hesse

This story has been updated. 

DeKalb County, GA — The DeKalb County Board of Education recently approved a $1.5 million settlement payment to a whistleblower in the school district’s police department.

Decaturish obtained the settlement via an open records request. The school board approved the settlement on June 12. The district didn’t release it to Decaturish until July 23.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2017 reported that Cpl. Fredrick Joiner had filed the complaint, alleging “district officials retaliated against him for reporting corruption in the public safety department and sexual misconduct involving students.”

He was placed on paid administrative leave then and, according to his LinkedIN profile, left his job with DeKalb Schools the same month he filed his lawsuit. The settlement and the AJC story at the time suggest he was fired. As part of the settlement, that termination will now be recorded as a resignation in his personnel file with the district.

Joiner was a decorated officer and in good standing with the department, according to the AJC. But reporting misconduct led to retaliation, the AJC reported.

According to the AJC, “He also told school officials about a student who was sexually assaulted and an assistant principal exhibiting predatory behavior against a student.” He also alleged that when he sent an email to school board members seeking protection as a whistleblower, those emails were erased before board members checked them, the AJC reported.

To see the full AJC story from 2017, click here.

As part of the settlement, DeKalb Schools did not admit any wrongdoing.

To read the district’s settlement agreement with Joiner, click here.

Paying out costly settlements for lawsuits is nothing new for DeKalb County Schools.

Here are two other recent settlements of note:

— The DeKalb County School Board voted June 20 to settle a whistleblower lawsuit filed by former COO Ben Estill.

His whistleblower lawsuit, filed in March 2021, alleges he was terminated for asking questions about irregularities in the district’s finances. He later died in a car crash.

As part of the settlement, Estill’s attorneys will receive $57,500 and $6,060 will go to a mediator.

DeKalb Schools didn’t admit any wrongdoing, according to the terms of the settlement.

— The DeKalb County School Board agreed to pay $100,000 to an employee who says she was harassed by the district after taking time off to deal with a medical issue.

The board approved the settlement with Atiya Hollis at its May 8 meeting. The district (or its insurer) will pay Hollis’ attorney $60,000 in legal fees in addition to the $100,000 paid to Hollis. She will have to pay $5,600 to cover the cost of mediation and will credit five vacation days back to the school district.

Hollis alleged the district violated the Family Medical Leave Act by retaliating against her when she took leave to deal with a medical issue. Hollis filed the lawsuit in 2021. She began working for DeKalb County Schools as an elementary teacher in 2004.

Editor’s note: Our recent investigative reporting about Clarkston has affected our ability to provide timely investigative news about other important beats. Investigative reporting is time and labor-intensive. It’s work we can’t do without your support. If you value this kind of investigative work and want to keep it going, visit supportyourlocalnews.com and become a paying subscriber today. We need your support to stay on top of what’s happening in our community.

Want Decaturish delivered to your inbox every day? Sign up for our free newsletter by clicking here.

If you appreciate our work on this story, please become a paying supporter. For as little as $6 a month, you can help us keep you in the loop about your community.