INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A former IPS counselor accused of having sex with two students pleaded guilty to lesser charges and avoided jail time.
Shana Taylor appeared in court today and pleaded guilty to three felony counts of dissemination of matter harmful to minors.
As part of the plea agreement, she will serve six years on home detention, and all other charges will be dropped. She was previously facing child seduction charges.
Many believe the plea deal means Taylor is getting off easy on serious charges. Senator Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) called the deal "unacceptable."
"We need to send a message to all school employees that it’s wrong to harm children and what this says is ‘not okay, but we’ll let it go by,' " Merritt said.
Merritt said he's disappointed at the message this sends after he and others worked to create new bills aimed at keeping bad teachers out of classrooms.
Senate Bill 34 will be introduced on Wednesday. The bill would make it mandatory for school systems to have all employees background checked every five years. Merritt said the summer interim study committee had 6 bills pass, all of which would help a growing problem with teachers. Another bill he's hoping will pass would fix the state law loophole, where teachers can be in the classroom up to 90 days before their background checks are complete.
"This will be a topic that will be discussed session long," Merritt said. He added, “I will not rest until I feel comfortable that all kids are comfortable at school and safe in school."
The Marion County Prosecutors Office released this statement:
As with all plea agreements, our office reached what we believe to be an appropriate outcome based on our experience and several factors, including the strength or weakness of evidence, impact on victims, and likely range of sentence should a case be successfully prosecuted at trial. The likely range of sentence would include an evaluation of mitigating factors which the court would consider, including the absence of criminal history of the defendant.
Several IPS administrators were fired for waiting six days to report the allegations to DCS.
As part of the plea agreement, Taylor must also relinquish her teaching license and cannot have contact with the teens she's accused of having sex with.