Counsel: No Action Needed After Athens School Board Member Investigation

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ATHENS — An independent counsel determined “no action” was necessary by the Athens City Schools Board of Education after an investigation into allegations one of its members improperly handled a report of sexual assault.

The decision was announced late Thursday in a press release sent by Superintendent Tom Gibbs. He wrote in the release the board had reviewed the investigation and findings.

“It was the opinion of counsel that no action by the Board is necessary with regard to any district employee or any public official,” Gibbs wrote in the release.

Dr. Paul Grippa, a former principal and current board member, was under fire in August after a woman alleged she had reported being sexually assaulted when she was a student in 2010, but in his role as Athens Middle School principal, he had mishandled the case. She posted a petition on the website calling on the Athens Board of Education to remove him.

“I express concern that Dr. Grippa’s actions signify a violation (of) Athens City Schools Policy as I was unable to learn effectively every day of my secondary schooling career due to the nature of the case,” the woman wrote in the petition.

Grippa denied the accusations at a board meeting soon after the allegations came to light, and welcomed an investigation, “the sooner the better.”

When the school board approved hiring an independent investigator, Grippa used a written statement to comment on the allegations and abstain from the vote.

“People are making judgments and making a decision regarding my conduct without hearing from me,” Grippa read from the statement. “This concerns me, not only because of their uninformed rush to judgment, but also because no matter what the investigation finds, neither they nor anyone else will ever hear the details of my response, leaving a cloud over my name.”

Thursday’s release also stated the investigator’s report is confidential “pursuant to the attorney to client privilege and federal and state laws protecting the privacy of students,” and the district would not be commenting further.