Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Parents ask why teacher who inappropriately touched student wasn’t disciplined earlier
Angered parents began raising their voices and demanding answers to their questions regarding the safety of their children.
PLANO Plano ISD has posted responses to questions submitted by parents at the community meeting held at Hunt Elementary last week regarding the arrest of a teacher accused of sexually abusing a 9-year-old student.
Parents continued inquiries regarding prior allegations against Todd Reich, the teacher arrested October 16 amid allegations he inappropriately touched the student. The district acknowledged allegations were made against Reich at the time of the alleged abuse but that they did not involve inappropriate contact with a student and the abuse was unknown to district and campus staff until his arrest.
The district reiterated that there was no known "failure to report" by school personnel regarding the alleged abuse and that the original allegations against Reich did not warrant disciplinary action or notification of police or Child Protective Services, though the nature of those allegations has still not been made public.
One parent asked why no disciplinary action was taken against Reich after former principal Linda Engelking asked Reich to stay away from the alleged victim prior to his arrest, a claim made in Reich's arrest affidavit. In response, the district wrote "appropriate action was taken based upon the information available at the time of the investigation."
Other questions revolved around security procedures at the school. The district replied by reiterating plans to increase the number of security cameras at the campus from 40 to 88 and install windows or glass on all solid doors on offices and classrooms.
When a parent asked about the possible establishment of a Sexual Assault Response Team on campuses, the district said such a concept might interfere with possible police investigations.
"All agencies have been clear that district staff should immediately contact the appropriate agency when a staff member has cause to believe that a child has been or may be abused or neglected," the response reads. "The agencies have also clearly stated that they do not want district staff conducting interviews, taking photographs or engaging in investigations that will be conducted at their level."
A similar response was given when a parent asked if district nurses are certified as Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE). Sexual assault examinations conducted by SANE nurses involve collecting physical evidence, a step that would be "inappropriate" for the district to take, though all nurses and counselors are trained to report suspected abuse, the response reads.
"The district has been specifically told by law enforcement that they would be very much against a school district having school nurses perform SANE exams as this could jeopardize and complicate an otherwise valuable criminal case," the response reads.
A follow-up to last week's meeting has been announced, but no date has been set. The first meeting was ended early by Superintendent Richard Matkin after angered parents began raising their voices and demanding answers to their questions regarding the safety of their children.
No other victims of abuse have come forward since Reich's arrest, the response reads.
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