Board member: Evidence wasn’t there to terminate Acker

Published 4:14 pm Friday, January 6, 2012

By AMY JONES / Associate Editor

A member of the Shelby County Board of Education during a February 1993 Daniel M. Acker Jr. termination hearing said evidence presented at the time “did not support a termination” and that all five then-board members voted that Acker should keep his job as a fourth-grade teacher at Creek View Elementary School.

On Jan. 5, Alabaster police said Acker has admitted to sexually abusing at least 21 girls at various Alabaster schools over a 25-year period. The 1993 termination hearing came after allegations of child abuse were made against Acker.

Daniel Montague Acker Jr.

Steve Martin, who was on the school board in 1993 and today still serves on the board as vice president, said there were witnesses for and against Acker during the 1993 hearing, which went on “until the wee hours of the morning.”

“The school board can’t sit there and say the employee committed a criminal offense. We don’t have any legal authority other than terminating or not terminating (a job),” Martin said. “The evidence did not support a termination, and that was based not on just one person, but on five board members.”

When specifically asked about an assertion by Montevallo resident Beverly Watson that Acker gave a test to the alleged victim’s class that contained a question about the color of the alleged victim’s underwear, Martin said there was no physical evidence presented during the 1993 termination hearing.

“The only allegations were verbal,” he said. “Again, this is 17 years ago, but to my knowledge and the best of my recollection, there was no physical evidence.”

In November 1992, the accusations against Acker were presented to a Shelby County grand jury, which did not indict him.

“A lot of people are talking about the school board. ‘Why didn’t they do this’ and ‘Why didn’t they do that,’” Martin said. “No one’s asking, ‘Why didn’t the grand jury return an indictment?’ Evidently there wasn’t enough evidence. He was never found guilty in a court.”

Martin said he was “shocked” when he heard of Acker’s confession.

Since Acker’s 1993 termination hearing, Martin said he has not heard of another complaint against Acker. He said that doesn’t mean complaints were not made, simply that those complaints never came to the board.

“There was never another complaint, to my knowledge. I’m not saying the press or the superintendent didn’t get another one,” he said. “(The board) doesn’t do day-to-day operations, and there was never another complaint reported to me.”

Even though Acker admitted to abusing more than 20 girls, Martin said there is no proof that the 1993 case is one of those cases.

“The question still remains if the incident actually happened. I’m not saying it didn’t,” Martin said. “But I haven’t heard anything from anybody that was actually involved in the hearing. I haven’t seen anything where the child or the family members came forward. There’s still no proof that that particular case was actually one of the cases.”

At the time of Acker’s 1993 termination hearing, the school board was comprised of Martin, Lee Doebler, Donna Morris, Cindy Forrester and Susan Bagley.

Doebler is still on the Shelby County Board of Education. He currently serves as the board’s president. He did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment.