IPS investigating 6-day lag in reporting sexual allegations against counselor

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Mar. 3, 2016) - A letter released to all IPS staff Thursday hinted at a potential breakdown of the IPS sexual abuse reporting policy, which may have led to state laws being broken.

It took six days from the time administrators found out about an incident involving an IPS counselor and one of her students, to a report being filed with the Indiana Department of Child Services.

A letter sent to all IPS staff Thursday read, “Superintendent Ferebee has called for an independent investigation into whether and how any reporting breakdown might have occurred.”

School officials are trying to figure out what took so long to report allegations of IPS Counselor, Shana Taylor, having sex with multiple students on and off school property, for months. Taylor, 37, faces 11 counts in the case. Nine of them are child seduction charges, along with one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and dissemination of matter harmful to minors.

IPS officials released their own timeline of events earlier this week.

On February 17, a victim’s mother reported the abuse to the school’s assistant principal. In her meeting with the administrator, court documents say she showed them graphic messages between Taylor and her son.

The next day, February 18, Taylor was placed on administrative leave.

For several days the abuse is investigated internally. According to IPS officials initially the allegations were reported to the IPS Student Services Department. Student Services then contacted IPS Human Resource Services, which launched their own investigation on the allegations.

Six days after the allegations first came to light, on February 23, a report was finally filed with the Indiana Department of Child Services.

“There is no timeline. The statute actually says they have a duty to report immediately,” said Lisa Tanselle, an Attorney with the Indiana School Boards Association.

Tanselle says not only is it state law to report allegations of child abuse to DCS immediately, but it should be every school’s policy as well.

“It’s not, in the eyes of the court, whether or not you should take some time to investigate, it’s what should your duty be in order to protect the child,” she said.

IPS claims it’s their policy to report incidents like this to the school system’s internal HR department and from there a report would be filed with DCS.

That is not the way it works though, according to experts in child abuse prevention.

“Even if you have what we call a designated reporter where you would go maybe to a supervisor and they’re the ones who are primarily responsible for reporting, it doesn’t absolve you from your responsibility,” said Sandy Runkle, the Director of Prevent Child Abuse Indiana.

There was an Indiana Supreme Court ruling on this exact topic in 2014. The court ruled on a case where a student reported a rape allegation to her principal. The principal waited six hours before filing a report with DCS. The Supreme Court ruled that was too long of a time period and as a result that principal faced criminal charges.

IPS officials would not say if in light of this investigation, if any IPS employee will be fired or charged with a crime.