Critics say punishment was not enough for Douglass High principal accused of sexual misconduct

ATLANTA — Channel 2 Action News has learned the state has opened an investigation into an Atlanta Public Schools high school principal accused of fondling a female subordinate.

Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher learned the state action comes just as the Douglass High principal is finishing an expensive suspension.

Artesza Portee was given 25 days without pay after outside investigators concluded he didn’t respond truthfully when questioned about an accusation that he fondled a subordinate.

He’s been serving that suspension one day a week since January. Now, the state is on him.

Critics say that’s good because they believe APS let him off too easily.

“I’m really disappointed with the way the district has handled it. I think this is completely unacceptable,” said Atlanta City Councilman Michael Julian Bond, a graduate of Douglass High School.

Bond is among many alums who contend APS has consistently mismanaged the westside school which has had nine principals in a dozen years.

Now critics are unhappy that Portee is not being removed for alleged sexual misconduct with a female APS employee.

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“How can you have someone with these kind of allegations still retaining their job and still being in a work environment along with other female employees and of course, a building full of female students? it sends the wrong message all the way down the line,” Bond said.

“This is just a small slap on the hand and thus is just a blatant disregard for the female employees within the building,” said Brandon Graham, a Douglass graduate and chair of the school’s stakeholder committee.

Belcher showed Graham and alumni president Angelia Gay Bankston the documents he obtained from APS through the state’s open records law.

The documents lay out the findings against Portee and what the district said was appropriate disciplinary action.

Records show that investigators from a private law firm concluded that Portee gave them untruthful answers.

The school district gave Portee 25 days without pay in January. And it referred the findings against him to the state as required.

“I say it’s not enough. These are serious charges that have been brought up against him,” Bankston said.

Bankston told Belcher that her own digging convinced her of the truth of the charges against the Douglass principal.

“I think they’ve been confirmed also, and after speaking to the victim, I’m probably 100% that they have been confirmed,” Bankston said.

We estimate the suspension cost Portee between $12,000 and $15,000. APS also gave him what it calls a final warning.

The state profession standards commission opened its own investigation into Portee earlier this month and that could affect his state license.

Portee did not provide a statement for this story.