Editor’s note: Georgia Republican guvernatorial candidate Ray McBerry issued this news release in response to a report on allegation that McBerry committed sexual misconduct with a student while working as an eduator.
This week, a story ran accusing Ray of having had misconduct with a student eight years ago while teaching. The story centered around the fact that his teaching certificate had been suspended for one week during the middle of July when school was not in session in 2004; and the suspension notice stated that the reason for the suspension was because: “The educator demonstrated conduct that does not follow generally recognized professional standards…” It should be immediately apparent to most people that a teacher having his teaching certificate suspended for a single week — in July, no less, when school is not even in session — indicates that there was little belief among anyone involved in the process that any actual wrongdoing had occurred on the part of the educator.
It is true that Mr. McBerry counseled a high school student, whose family attended the same church, at the original request of the teenager’s mother; but that is where fact and the fiction of allegations seem to part company. The mother asked Ray’s help in counseling her daughter who had begun to use alcohol and marijuana, was having sexual relations with boys from school, had talked of suicide on several occasions, and had emotional problems in general. It is important to note that these problems with which the teenager was dealing were not known to Ray when he initially agreed to talk with her as a layman counselor at church. The high schooler was never a student of Ray’s and did not even attend the school where he taught. The only relationship that existed was through church and the two families visiting in each other’s homes for dinner; there was no school relationship that existed.
Ultimately, the teenager’s stepfather made accusations against Ray for counseling his stepdaughter without his “authorization” and sought to have Ray’s teaching certificate revoked and legal charges brought against him for “contributing to the delinquency of a minor” (a much less substantial charge than what had originally been implied). Upon hearing the accusations and all of the testimony against Ray, the local magistrate did not even wait for Ray to take the stand in his own defense before ruling that no evidence had even been given that a crime was ever committed; and the magistrate refused to even allow charges to be brought in the case.
In the attempt to have Ray’s teaching certificate revoked, again, the stepfather was unsuccessful because he was unable to persuade anyone in the investigation that his allegations and inuendo had any basis in fact. After nearly a year and a half of Ray refusing to sign a statement admitting any such behavior, the state ethics commission suspended his teaching certificate for one week when school session was out in the middle of July for the stated reason above and nothing else.
In trying to help the student who seems to have become attached and emotionally dependent upon Ray at the time, and then having to deal with a stepfather whose motives Ray had questioned, it seems that the old adage “No good deed goes unpunished” is founded once again. Today, Ray still possesses a valid teaching certificate in the state of Georgia which can be renewed at any time of his choosing. He has owned his own successful business in radio and television now for nearly seven years and enjoys the benefits of leisure time and much higher pay than he did as a teacher. When asked about his view on what happened nearly eight years ago, Ray commented, “It was unfortunate, at the time, that it happened. I did not understand how someone asked to help could become the target, himself, of suspicion. However, today I see that the Providence of God used the incident to open new doors of opportunity for myself and my family which have made my life much more enjoyable than it was when I was teaching and barely able to provide for my family. As a former educator, I understand and greatly respect, personally, the sacrifices that our teachers make, particularly in receiving such low pay and assuming such great risks all for the purpose of helping young people.”
More information about Ray McBerry, including his position on improving education in Georgia, may be found at www.GeorgiaFirst.org