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Arrested school counselor says she tried to report abuse to DFCS

9:30 PM, Jan 14, 2014   |    comments
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  • School counselor and Riverdale City Council member Cynthia Stamps-Jones
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School, College Park
  • Vicki Gavalas, Clayton County Schools spokesperson
  • Jonesboro attorney Keith Martin
    

CLAYTON COUNTY, GA - "I think there's been a grave injustice to and being done to my client," Jonesboro attorney Keith Martin told 11Alive News on Tuesday.

The client he's talking about is school counselor Cynthia Stamps-Jones, who also happens to be a Riverdale City Council member.

According to Martin, Stamps-Jones said when a teacher reported possible physical abuse of a 5-year-old student at MLK, Jr. Elementary School in College Park last week, she and a social worker interviewed the child and took pictures of the injuries.

She claimed she told her superiors at the school, but her calls to Georgia's Division of Family and Children Services, including voice mail messages, were never answered or returned.

"She documented it and she reported it within the school system; she attempted to report it to DFCS at least three times with no response," her attorney told 11Alive News.

Two days later, Stamps-Jones reported the abused 5-year-old to Clayton County Police along with another possible abuse case.

But she was shocked when police took out a warrant and arrested her for not reporting the first case within 24 hours, as the law requires.

Clayton County's school system told 11Alive it's the counselor's duty to make sure the case is reported properly.

"We have to be concerned with the care and safety of our students and you've gotta call 'til you get somebody," said school spokesperson Vicki Gavalas.

"They cannot make another agency do something, and that seems to be the great fallacy in the thinking here," attorney Martin responded.

A DFCS spokesperson told 11Alive they had no comment on the case.

But the agency's website suggests anyone reporting child abuse can always call local police.

The school system also said its own investigation continues to try and find out how many other employees at the school may have known about the case and not said anything.

Meanwhile, attorney Martin believes none of them, including Stamps-Jones, should be prosecuted.

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