The Okaloosa County School District has displayed an appalling Lack of Accountability as evidenced by the multiple scandals which have occurred over the last 5 years. Since 2017, scandals have become commonplace in Okaloosa schools, starting from the top level of the School District – and our School Board has never even acknowledged these scandals nor taken action to prevent them.
After a 2016 investigation into the abuse of an Okaloosa Special Needs student, the School District failed to report the matter to the state as required by law. Our School Board took no action, but Governor DeSantis stepped in and suspended then-Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson:
In 2019, Joseph Michael Sparks, an Okaloosa County middle school teacher, was arrested and charged with soliciting/engaging in lewd behavior with a student and failing to report child abuse:
In 2021, Karen Hall, an Okaloosa County School District Aide, was arrested for hitting a child in her care on a special needs bus:
In 2021, Hayley Hallmark, an Okaloosa County middle school teacher and coach was arrested TWICE for carrying on an inappropriate and abusive relationship with a student for two years:
Once again in 2021, an Okaloosa County School bus assistant is arrested and charged with child abuse after shoving a student against a wall to confiscate a cell phone:
IN ALL 5 CASES, NO SCHOOL BOARD ACTION!!!
ELECT NEW SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS
Truth4OK will continue to closely monitor the Okaloosa County School District.
We will continue to push for much-needed improvement in Accountability and Transparency.
As long as the politician-in-training Chambers remains at the helm, schools will continue to be in jeopardy.
I saw a sign today and looked this up. Are you vetting and recommending new school board members? Are you needing new people to run? I am against masking, against CRT, against Social Emotional Learning, against LGBQ whatever that is….grooming in any way. We just moved here. I want to know where board members stand in these issues before I vote for them with my tax payer money.
As long as we do not have any communistic ideals or what is considered CRT, Marxism Socialism. Our representatives need to be highly educated officials not this quack jobs coming out college thinking that gender is an issue. That is total b.s. gender is not an issue. So keep garbage education out of public schools. Remind those local officials we are their boss.
Was an aide on mini bus for many years . Retired in 2017 . Many things go on behind the scenes . Need new leadership
Thank you for sharing this information.
We’re these people convicted of these crimes or just charged,big difference
Former Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson was charged, had a hearing in the FL Senate, but prior to the full Senate voting to decide the case, the Governor revoked the suspension and reinstated her so she could immediately resign.
Joseph Michael Sparks was charged with two counts:
1: Felony Charge (Public Order Crime: Chapter 39, Section 205): FAIL TO REPORT SUSPECTED CHILD ABUSE ABANDON NEGLECT
Sentence: Withheld Adjudication (probation without formal conviction). He pled Guilty and was given three years probation.
2: Felony Charge (Sex Offense Crime: Chapter 800, Section 1010): AUTHORITY FIGURE SOLICIT ENGAGE ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIP WITH STUDENT
Sentence: Nolle Prossed, which effectively means the state attorney elected not to prosecute this charge at this time.
Hayley Hallmark Close just plead on 11/9/21 No Contest to Lewd and Lascivious Battery and is expected to be sentenced to 15 years; however, her case in Osceola County is still pending.
Karen Hall was charged with CRUELTY TOWARD CHILD – ABUSE CHILD WITHOUT GREAT BODILY HARM (827.03(2c))
Sentence: Pre-Trial Diversion, which essentially means she has to complete a program to keep from being prosecuted.
These cases all show a glaring problem: the Lack of Accountability in our School District means there’s a lack of sufficient deterrent to bad behavior. Our School Board is primarily guilty of watching this trend and doing nothing to reverse it.
It would appear that our inept state attorneys office is also involved. When it comes to standing up for our kids & their protection under the law … the law (or lack of enforcement) comes in 2nd or 3rd place. All of the examples listed should be serving time in peison.
I am shocked that an outside Firm/App (Go Fan) has control of tickets to Okaloosa County school sporting events. All who have interest in our school’s operations should also be concerned and demand rationale for enriching an outside source $1.30 (was $1) per ticket to Okaloosa sporting events. This must result in an estimated hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to Go Fan. Such big bucks create a lot of suspicions of “Why” and leave a troubling smell.
Surely our school system can come up with a process to keep these funds within the local school system rather than enrich an outside source. If this procedure is deemed better than ticket booths, have a school IT employee develop a program in-house to process ticket purchases. Any IT employee worthy of such a job should have the ability to create a county owned web site without the exorbitant and suspicious fee to outsiders. If not, this issue alone should be cause enough for new oversight.