An Okaloosa Grand Jury finds no criminal wrongdoing on the part of the school system after several employees allegedly failed to properly report a child abuse case. 

The grand jury noted that the criminal charges against the employees are proper, urged the investigation to continue and said they were concerned about the behavior and knowledge of Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson and urged more investigation into her actions. 

Authorities have arrested four employees so far in connection to the alleged abuse of a special needs boy at Kenwood Elementary.

Prosecutors say 59-year-old teacher Marlynn Stillions, of Destin abused a non-verbal autistic child by spraying him in the face with water or vinegar as punishment, using her foot to try to push a child on the floor, and kneeing the victim in the chin. 

Three district employees, Arden Farley of Niceville, who conducts internal investigations for the school district, and former Kenwood Elementary Principal Angelyn Vaughan and Stacie Smith, the District’s Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources allegedly broke the law by failing to report the allegation to the state.

As a result of the case the grand jury found that Okaloosa County School District Spokesman violated Florida’s Public Records law by releasing the complaint on Smith while the complaint was still active. The grand jury recommends the state attorney’s office pursue charges in the case.

The grand jury also recommended that more training needs to be done for employees on the mandatory child abuse reporting obligation that employees must follow under Florida law. 

Jurors also singled out Andy Johnson, a specialist in safety, athletics, discipline and crisis management. Johnson testified in front of the grand jury but jurors said he frequently said he could not remember things and that his answers were inconsistent with previous statements. 

“While we do not find his behavior before the Grand Jury criminal, we do find it concerning and worthy of note in this report,” they wrote. 

Finally, jurors wrote that they were most concerned by Superintendent Jackson’s behavior. She declined to testify in front of the Grand Jury. Jurors wrote that Jackson failed to fulfill her obligation for the safety and well-being of Okaloosa students. The criminal case of failing to report child abuse against Jackson’s employees is a result of poor training and supervision, jurors wrote.

“These mistakes should have never occurred,” they added. 

Jurors also wrote that Jackson made inconsistent statements in public about the case and encouraged the State Attorney’s Office to continue to investigate Jackson to determine if evidence exists to warrant criminal charges.  

“We plan to continue to investigate this matter by going back and reviewing all the documents we have gathered in our investigation and reviewing all of the witness statement,” said State Attorney Bill Eddins. “We plan to continue to investigate this matter vigorously as the Grand Jury requested.”