The criminal investigation of the Okaloosa County School District has been concluded, and no indictments of district officials will be sought, or further charges filed, unless new information is brought forward.

State Attorney Bill Eddins confirmed his office’s intention to wrap up its case Wednesday, soon after a grand jury, convened for the first time in February, filed a report following a second round of testimony.

The grand jury heard evidence Tuesday and Wednesday and returned no true bills seeking indictments, he said.

“The investigation by our office has been lengthy, detailed and thorough, and has reached a point where we’ve interviewed all the witnesses, looked at all the documents and reviewed all information provided by the public,” Eddins said.

A second grand jury presentment will be released in 15 days, unless a person named in the report requests a judge review it in hopes of having information repressed or expunged. Such a request could delay or even prevent the release of the document.

Eddins’ office embarked on its second round of investigation of the school district in March at the request of the grand jury.

Jurors were originally called upon to look at flawed school district operations, policies and procedures that included evidence of child abuse, sexual misconduct and cheating. They also saw evidence that faculty, staff and administrators had turned a blind eye to all of it.

The grand jury was provided testimony concerning the suspicious closing of an investigation documenting physical abuse on the part of one special education teacher.

Jurors were made aware of the arrests of four school officials, including one teacher charged with child abuse and three others, including and district’s former assistant superintendent of human resources, for failing to report child abuse.

In February the grand jury issued a harshly worded report placing much of the blame for the district’s dysfunction on School Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson.

Jackson, the grand jury said, had failed to fulfill her obligations as both a superintendent and an elected official.

It said it was Jackson’s duty to see that employees were properly trained and supervised, and made aware of their obligation to report child abuse. It called upon her to revise and enforce district policies and procedures.

Most seriously, it questioned “inconsistent statements” Jackson made in denying any knowledge in the disappearance of the investigative report.

It called upon the State Attorney’s Office to look specifically at Jackson to see if evidence existed of criminal behavior, and Eddins vowed to do so.

Eddins said Wednesday that even though no more criminal charges are expected, he believes the investigation and the intense media coverage the Okaloosa County School District scandal has generated have well served the public, and particularly vulnerable students.

“I feel, as a result of the investigation and the attention brought to the issue by the media, the school children of Okaloosa County and the First Judicial Circuit are safer today than when this investigation started,” Eddins said. “People are now better aware of issues related to child abuse than they were when we started.”

 

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FORT WALTON BEACH — The criminal investigation of the Okaloosa County School District has been concluded, and no indictments of district officials will be sought or more charges filed unless new information is brought forward.

State Attorney Bill Eddins confirmed his office’s intention to wrap up its case Wednesday, soon after a grand jury filed a report following a second round of testimony.

 READ a compilation of stories, and check out videos and podcasts associated with the unfolding story.

The grand jury heard evidence Tuesday and Wednesday and returned no true bills seeking indictments, he said.

“The investigation by our office has been lengthy, detailed and thorough, and has reached a point where we’ve interviewed all the witnesses, looked at all the documents and reviewed all information provided by the public,” Eddins said.

The grand jury's second presentment will be released in 15 days unless a person named in the report requests a judge's review in hopes of having information repressed or expunged. Such a request could delay or even prevent the release of the document.

Eddins’ office embarked on its second round of investigation of the school district in March at the request of the grand jury after it met in February.

Jurors were originally called to look at allegedly flawed School District operations, policies and procedures that included evidence of child abuse, sexual misconduct and cheating. They also saw evidence that in many cases faculty, staff and administrators turned a blind eye to much of what they saw.

The grand jury was provided testimony concerning the suspicious closing of an investigation documenting physical abuse by one special education teacher.

Jurors were made aware of the arrests of four school officials, including one teacher charged with child abuse and three others, including and district’s former assistant superintendent of human resources, for failing to report child abuse.

The grand jury issued a harshly worded report in February that placed much of the blame for the district’s missteps on School Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson.

Jackson, the grand jury said, had failed to fulfill her obligations as both a superintendent and an elected official.

It said it was Jackson’s duty to see that employees were properly trained and supervised, and made aware of their obligation to report child abuse. It called upon her to revise and enforce district policies and procedures.

Most seriously, it questioned “inconsistent statements” Jackson made in denying any knowledge in the disappearance of the investigative report of the special ed teacher.

The grand jury called upon the State Attorney’s Office to look specifically at Jackson to see if evidence existed of criminal behavior. Eddins vowed to do so.

Eddins said Wednesday that even though no more criminal charges are expected, he believes the investigation and the intense media coverage generated by the School District has served the public well, particularly vulnerable students.

“I feel, as a result of the investigation and the attention brought to the issue by the media, the school children of Okaloosa County and the First Judicial Circuit are safer today than when this investigation started,” Eddins said. “People are now better aware of issues related to child abuse than they were when we started.”