INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 17, 2016) – After what was described as a total failure, 60 IPS principals Thursday received training on how to effectively and immediately report suspicions of child abuse to the Department of Child Services.
This comes after a six day delay in reporting allegations that an IPS school counselor was having sex with multiple students.
“Immediately means now and it is statute that that is a class B misdemeanor so you can be prosecuted,” said James Wide, Spokesman for the Department of Child Services.
DCS officials made crystal clear Thursday that the law was not followed when multiple IPS administrators failed to report allegations that 37 year old IPS Counselor, Shana Taylor was having sex with multiple students, in and out of school.
Six days went by before those allegations were reported to DCS.
“It was a perfect storm of miscommunication. We’re dealing with that, with the training that’s in place, that’s already occurred and more will occur and we’ve tightened up our processes,” Superintendent Dr. Lewis Ferebee said.
Behind closed doors Thursday DCS officials reminded dozens of IPS principals that they have a duty to report any suspicion of abuse immediately.
The Principal of the Positive Supports Academy where Taylor worked and where administrators were made aware of the alleged abuse, resigned last week citing personal reasons.
“We have field staff that will go out there, administer that training, again, helping those folks in that institution understand what to look for in abuse and neglect and how to report it,” said Wide.
“If there’s any doubt in someone’s mind, they must report it themselves,” said Teresa Meredith, President of the Indiana State Teachers Association.
The biggest misstep in the IPS reporting delay, according to Ferebee, was that every administrator made aware, thought someone else had filed a report.
Ferebee also clarified Thursday that he himself did not have the details to report and counted on the school staff and other departments to do so.
“I did not have any relevant facts about the allegation, did not have age, name, text messages, photos, anything that was associated with this claim so I just want to be clear about that,” Ferebee said.
Meredith said following through, even if that means a teacher calling DCS themselves, may be the single most important part in stopping abuse, even saving a child’s life.
“We tell our folks to actually watch and observe, if you don’t know that that call was physically made in your presence and that a live person was spoken with on the other end of the line then you bare an obligation to immediately go report it yourself,” she said.
More staff could be following the Principal out the door. Ferebee would not go into detail, but did imply that the process is underway.
“There are other individuals that have been involved in our disciplinary procedures. … I anticipate much of that information will be made available to you in the near future,” Ferebee said.