Couple accused of child neglect

Photo by Tori Boone

Photo by Tori Boone

GRAYSON -- A Grayson couple faces multiple counts of child cruelty for allowing their three boys to live in a filthy home infested with fleas, roaches and rat droppings, according to police.

Among the suspects is a bus driver for Gwinnett County Public Schools who's now the subject of an internal investigation.

Police on Tuesday arrested Ronnie, 39, and April Keais, 38, citing the deplorable condition of their Pinella Road home. Both are charged with three counts of felony child cruelty, first degree. They remain at the Gwinnett County Jail on $33,600 bond.

Police said the couple jeopardized the health of their sons, ages 6 to 14, by subjecting them to "filthy living conditions," according to warrants brought by Gwinnett police.

A Magistrate Court judge ordered them to have no contact with their children -- or to own a pet or animal of any kind -- should they make bond, records show.

Gwinnett police spokesman Cpl. David Schiralli declined to provide further information or a police report detailing the arrests. He cited a confidentiality statute that protects victims in child maltreatment cases.

April Keais has worked as a bus driver with Gwinnett County Public Schools since 2001, said schools spokeswoman Sloan Roach. Keais notified her supervisor of the charges against her, and the district is conducting a human resources investigation into the matter, Roach said.

In the interim, Keais will not be driving a bus route.

"We have been given no indication that this involves school children or any of her bus riders," Roach said.

The single-story, yellow home, tucked off Rosebud Road, hardly seems unsanitary from the street. A Scooby-Doo blanket covered a large window Tuesday afternoon, and a riding mower joined a Dodge mini-van with its back window missing in the driveway.

A neighbor said, at a glance, the family appeared to covet their time together, often spending weekends on Boy Scout bivouacs that the boys cherished. They had one dog but were not known to cause insect or rodent problems, he said.

"They were really good to their kids as far as I could see," said the neighbor, who withheld his name. "I'm really surprised."

A bond hearing for the couple is scheduled Nov. 5. It was unclear Tuesday who was granted custody of the children.