Readers’ guide to coverage of investigations involving OCSD

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It’s been four and a half months unlike any seen in Okaloosa County history since Northwest Florida Daily News investigative reporting began to unravel a host of issues concerning the county’s main educational body.

By Bob Heist | 315-4404 | @bobheistNWFDN |

It’s been four and a half months unlike any seen in Okaloosa County history since Northwest Florida Daily News investigative reporting began to unravel a host of issues concerning the county’s main educational body.

It began in August when the Daily News confirmed that the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office was actively investigating allegations of child abuse involving a special needs student at Kenwood Elementary School. That, however, was just the tip of the iceberg for the Okaloosa County School District.

Since that revelation at Kenwood — first discovered by the little boy’s father, Eddie Perillo, after a year of being kept from public knowledge — investigations, harassment claims, public complaints, public misrepresentations and contradictions by district officials, arrests and a lawsuit have followed.

With a new discovery seemingly being made on a weekly basis — and sometimes daily — the current state of the school district is in the hands of the State Attorney’s Office, which is in the investigative stage of child abuse allegations involving special needs children at both Kenwood Elementary and Silver Sands School.

First Judicial Circuit State Attorney Bill Eddins has already reported to the Daily News that he intends to convene a grand jury to review the many serious issues his office has uncovered in the course of investigating the Okaloosa County School District.

From the beginning, this story has belonged to the Daily News and we have placed all resources necessary — including monetary for past, present and future public records requests and consultation with legal experts — to cover investigations, allegations and revelations that have shocked our community.

If any of our readers believe they have information that can further peel back the layers of an onion that at this point has reached an unthinkable scope, contact us by email:

Bob Heist, executive editor,

Wendy Victora, managing editor,

Heather Osbourne, staff reporter,

Tom McLaughlin, staff reporter,

Please be sure to briefly describe the information we may want to investigate plus a phone number for contact. All reader information will be held in strict confidence.

As for where the investigations currently stand, it is sometimes hard to follow a developing story if you haven’t been there from the beginning. To help readers, below are links that serve as a guide to Daily News coverage since we first learned that the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office was actively investigating in August what by that time was more than a year of silence on the case involving little Noah Perillo, the now 6-year-old non-verbal autistic boy alleged to be a main victim of abuse at Kenwood Elementary.

The dates are when Daily News original reporting first was published online at

Jan. 4

State to train district investigators; Gov. Scott reviewing child abuse allegations

Jan. 3

Kenwood child abuse case trials rescheduled

Dec. 31

Daily News Person of the Year: Eddie Perillo

From the Editor – OCSD Scandal: Onward we tread, in search of truth

Dec. 29

Video reveals Kelley in office at time of text messages

Dec. 21

Report finds Kelley broke public records law

Dec. 16

Kelley missteps lead to official reprimands

Dec. 14

Former Jackson election opponent sues for discrimination

Dec. 13

Report: Teacher given pass after helping students cheat on assessment test

Dec. 12

Grand jury to review OCSD probe

Dec. 11

State may audit school investigations

Dec. 10

Local legislators address school district scandal

Dec. 5

Farley stymied at appeals hearing

Destin stands alone in defense of Farley

Highlights from the Arden Farley appeal hearing

Dec. 2

Farley to break silence in child abuse case

Nov. 30

Choctaw custodian faces termination for sexual harassment

Nov. 28

Formal complaint lodged against Mary Beth Jackson

Nov. 25

School District spokesman receives ‘letter of guidance’ after investigation

Nov. 18

Report in Stillions case didn’t meet state statutes

Nov. 14

Menchel keeps pushing for answers on Kelley texts

Investigations squash OCSD half-cent sales tax referendum

Nov. 7

Investigations engulf Okaloosa County School District

Oct. 27

Who exactly is the spokesperson for School District?

Oct. 25

Formal complaint filed against school district spokesman

Oct. 24

Citizen reports harassment from district spokesman

Oct. 23

School Board considers abuse policy changes

Oct. 20

Spurred by recent investigations, School Board talks policy overhaul

Oct. 19

Mary Beth Jackson continues to press for own attorney

Oct. 16

Outside help sought in allegations against Choctaw High School employee

Oct. 13

4 school district staffers placed on administrative leave this week

Oct. 11

School Resource Officer displayed ‘wanton indifference’ to Kenwood investigations

Oct. 10

State: Teacher hurt kids at Silver Sands School

Mary Beth Jackson says she wants her own lawyer

Oct. 4

Sheriff’s Office: School resource officer neglected duties in Kenwood abuse case

Sept. 30, 2017

School Board chairman believes abuse probe followed ‘district investigative process’

OCSD must address ‘The superintentdent shall …’

Sept. 27, 2017

State Attorney: School district investigation will be ‘thorough’

Sept. 26, 2017

Sheriff’s Office: Superintendent knew of child abuse report

Sept. 25, 2017

Jackson not resigning ‘at this time’

Okaloosa School Board to consider new abuse regulations

PHOTOS: Okaloosa School Board meeting

Petition for Jackson’s ouster gains momentum

Sept. 23

Former superintendents question school district’s current leadership

Sept. 22, 2017

Superintendent reveals having email containing investigative report but never opened it

Jackson clarifies contradiction

Sept. 21, 2017

OCSD responds to questions about controversial memo

School district probe sparks proposals

Sept. 16, 2017

Child Abuse Investigation: ‘I’m not going to be a scapegoat’

Investigator: OCSD exonerated Stillions on false pretenses

Sept. 15, 2017

3 people arrested in child cruelty case

2 school district employees suspended in connection with abuse investigation

VIDEO: Eddie Perillo, father of abused autistic child

Sept. 13, 2017

Mother wants notification of child abuse cases

Sept. 12, 2017

‘Several’ warrants isssued in school district child abuse case

Aug. 4, 2017

OCSO confirms investigation into alleged teacher abuse

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