Category Archives: Teacher

Ohio Mother Files Child Abuse Report

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Law Enforcement is in the process of interviewing witnesses.

Finneytown principal, teacher under
investigation for Child Abuse

FINNEYTOWN, OH  –  A principal and teacher are under investigation in Finneytown after child abuse allegations came to light.

The mother of a student filed a police report with Springfield Township Police alleging her child was assaulted by Principal Lana Gerber.

In the report, it states the mother got a call from a “faculty member at Brent stating she witnessed the principal buckle her sons knees causing him to fall to the ground.”

The mother in the report states she asked her son about the incident and he said that it did occur.  The child in question is 6-years-old.

The alleged incident happened on Nov. 10.

District officials told FOX19 NOW they are cooperating with police and their investigation.

The principal is still working as they look into the incident.

A spokesperson with police said, “Investigators assigned to the case are still in the process of interviewing witnesses.  Once that is complete the determination will be made whether this will be pursed as a criminal offense, an administrative matter or that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to determine the incident occurred.”

FOX19 NOW did attempt to talk to the mother of the 6-year-old but was unsuccessful.

It was just last week that FOX19 NOW learned a Finneytown teacher had been placed on paid administrative leave since Oct. 5 over an incident which involved the dragging of a student.

The school district would not go into detail, but they did give a letter which it reads, “The administrative leave shall remain in effect until further notice, pending a formal meeting with the superintendent. The reason for this action is a substantiated report that you may have participated in an incident of child abuse.”

FOX19 NOW did speak to the teacher by phone.  She said she used “poor judgment,” but felt her actions were not a fireable offense.  She said she grabbed a student by the hand and was trying to get him to music class.

She said the child began to lay on the ground and she dragged him about four to five steps. The incident was captured on school cameras.

The teacher said, “I know what I did was wrong.”

She claims the child got up after those four to five steps and never even told his mother what happened.

The teacher’s personnel file also includes a glowing report.  It reads, “she responds effectively to misbehavior.  The teacher is extremely tolerant of individual differences and she persists in seeking effective approaches for individual students.  She does an outstanding job of managing behavior even with difficult students.”

She said she will not resign and the Board will have to fire her.

FL School Resource Officer Suspended

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Eddie Perillo and his Son

School resource officer suspended during
Child Abuse investigation

OKALOOSA COUNTY, FL  –  A former Okaloosa County school resource officer was suspended for “allegations of unsatisfactory performance and not obeying the rules”, according to a report released by the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO).

It all came to light, the OCSO reports, when the sheriff’s office began investigating allegations of child abuse at Kenwood Elementary School in May.

OCSO launched an internal investigation when child protection investigators with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) revealed the resource officer did not help or cooperate with multiple ongoing child abuse investigations at the elementary school.

Officials say Officer Dwayne Vasiloff wrote seven initial child abuse reports between August 2016 and June of 2017.  However, during that same time, DCF investigators made 46 investigative visits to the school.

The internal investigation deemed Vasiloff neglected his duty and was “content” with DCF handle the investigations and the resulting workload.

While Vasiloff denied any wrongdoing, he was suspended without pay, reassigned and put on probation.  The sheriff’s office said Vasiloff retired in July before finishing his probation.

The State Attorney’s Office said the investigation has “no bearing on the ongoing criminal investigation in the Marlynn Stillions case”, according to OCSO. Channel 3 News reached out to Assistant State Attorney Greg Marcille, who said Vasiloff is “not a suspect at this time.  The investigation is ongoing and if additional facts come forward it is possible that status could change.”

The special needs teacher faces four counts of child abuse related to allegations she abused a boy with Autism. 

FL School District Covered Abuse Of Special Needs Child Over A Year

.jpg photo of Father and his Son who was abused
Eddie Perillo and his Son

School district addresses Child Abuse claims
in special news conference

OKALOOSA COUNTY, FL  –  Allegations of an Okaloosa County special needs teacher abusing a nonverbal child with autism has rocked the county.

On Monday, the school board will hold its regular meeting less than an hour after the superintendent holds a press conference.

The father of the child who was allegedly abused believes the school district tried to cover up signs of abuse.

Others in the community said it’s time for more oversight.

The saga began in 2015 at Kenwood Elementary School, when Eddie Perillo’s nonverbal autistic son moved into the classroom of Marlynn Stillions.

Eddie’s son spent more than a year in the teacher’s classroom.  At the same time, Eddie noticed changes to his son’s behavior.

“He became aggressive and he had aggressive behavior and just was acting a little different,” Perillo said.

It took until May of 2017 when Perillo was able to obtain a copy of a school district investigation, which accused Stillions of abusing the children in her care, for Perillo to learn about the alleged abuse.

He took the case to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office and believes it goes all the way to the superintendent’s office.

“I believe she knew about it.  To be honest with you, that’s my thoughts on everything. and if she didn’t, which is very hard to believe, she definitely should’ve been aware of it and taken action,” Perillo said.

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office investigated the claims and made three arrests, including the teacher, the principal of Kenwood Elementary and the school district’s investigator.

Other members of the autism community, like Angela Hager in Okaloosa County, said it’s a crossroad for the district.

Her autistic son spent almost two decades in Okaloosa County schools.

“I was shocked and very disturbed that not only those events happening, that there were so many witnesses that had seen these things happen and did not come forward until there was an employee intervention being conducted,” Hager said.

She’s on the agenda to speak at Monday night’s meeting.

“I think that there are things that can be done to fix this.  That’s what I want to see.  It’s not that I’ve lost all faith, it’s just that there are deficiencies that need to be addressed,” Hager said.

TN Educators Not Reporting Suspected Abuse Pt-2 of 2

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Brentwood Academy, a school for Nashville’s elite.

Lack of reporting of suspected Child Abuse by schools an ‘epidemic,’ prosecutors say

Thousands of Tennessee schoolchildren may be vulnerable because of lax reporting and investigating of possible child abuse, according to the findings of a Tennessean investigation.

‘We have one shot to get a good statement’

There are several reasons an educator might not report an abuse suspicion directly to police or child services, said Kristen Houser, spokeswoman for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

“Sometimes, people err on the wrong side; they think they want more information to feel more sure that it’s real before they report it.  Frankly, that’s really dangerous,” Houser said.

Crump, who serves as prosecutor for Bradley, McMinn, Monroe and Polk counties, said school officials could divulge information to the possible perpetrator, posing a safety risk to an abused child.

School officials are not trained as forensic investigators, so trying to interview a student about possible abuse can have other drastic consequences.

“We have one shot to get a good statement from a child,” Crump said.

The student may not tell a school official everything that happened, Crump said.  That could create conflicting statements in the future, or push the school to decide there is no problem when in fact abuse occurred.

Crump knows of one case in which a counselor decided no abuse occurred, but police and Crump’s office filed charges after conducting their own investigation.

‘I’d go with more of a carrot than a stick’

Scott Berkowitz, executive director of the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, said schools nationwide must tell teachers to report directly to authorities if they even suspect abuse.

More training for all educators may work better than prosecuting those who do not report, he said.

“I’d go with more of a carrot than a stick on this,” Berkowitz said.

Crump said he’s spoken in schools, telling teachers to go directly to school resource officers once they suspect abuse.

But these officers are typically not in private schools like Brentwood Academy.

While Brentwood Academy officials have said all of their staff is trained on mandatory reporting, the student handbook lays out a conflict resolution process that does not specifically mention what to do if sex abuse is suspected.

There can be broader, cultural issues when it comes to abuse and reporting in private schools, said Houser, the spokeswoman for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

“Whenever you end up with an environment that really prides itself on being elite, it can sow some seeds, because you have other priorities that are (seen) as most important,” Houser said.

“Those are vulnerabilities an offender can then exploit to perpetuate abuse and protect themselves.”

Tennessee child abuse hotline

Any adult who suspects or knows of child abuse in Tennessee is required by law to notify the Department of Children’s Services or local law enforcement.  The DCS abuse hotline is 877-237-0004.

Who is reporting child abuse?

While some states require only professionals, such as teachers or doctors, to report child abuse, Tennessee requires any person who suspects any form of child abuse to report it to child services or the police.

In 63 percent of cases across the country, professionals report the abuse, according to the 2015 Child Maltreatment report from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Here’s a breakdown of who submits reports for cases that received an investigation or some form of response.

  • Education personnel: 18.4 percent
  • Legal, law enforcement personnel: 18.2 percent
  • Social services personnel: 10.9 percent
  • Parents: 6.8 percent
  • Relatives: 6.8 percent
  • Anonymous sources: 7.4 percent

TN Educators Not Reporting Suspected Abuse Pt-1 of 2

.jpg photo of school investigated for Child Sexual Abuse
Brentwood Academy, a school for Nashville’s elite.

Lack of reporting of suspected Child Abuse by schools an ‘epidemic,’ prosecutors say

Exactly when Brentwood Academy officials learned of allegations of the rape and sexual assault of a 12-year-old boy by other students at the school, and when they informed law enforcement of what they knew, is disputed.

The allegations against the elite Christian private school outlined in a $30 million lawsuit illustrate what some say is a systemic problem across the state.

Thousands of Tennessee schoolchildren may be vulnerable because of lax reporting and investigating of possible child abuse, according to the findings of a Tennessean investigation.

State law mandates any adult with a suspicion or direct knowledge of child abuse must report it immediately to either child services or the police.  Not doing so is a misdemeanor and could mean jail time.

However, two prosecutors say the failure of principals, counselors and teachers to report suspected abuse to proper authorities is widespread.

“The lack of reporting from schools here in Davidson County and probably surrounding counties has become an epidemic,” said Chad Butler, a child sex abuse prosecutor in Davidson County.

“It’s happening so frequently that I can’t help but think it’s not a coincidence.”

Stephen Crump, a Republican prosecutor in East Tennessee, said the problem is a cultural issue in education.  School officials often want to investigate the alleged abuse instead of immediately reporting it.

“I can’t teach the math of my kids in high school.  (Schools) aren’t trained to do investigations.  They will overlook things,” Crump said.

‘I know they’re telling their staff not to report’

Brentwood Academy officials deny wrongdoing, saying they reported what they knew to appropriate authorities at the time.

Brentwood police said the department is investigating allegations of attacks on the boy in the locker room at the academy.  That investigation does not include school officials for failure to properly report the attacks, as alleged in the lawsuit.

Kim Helper, the district attorney for Williamson County, said she didn’t think non-reporting was a local issue and she can’t remember any recent prosecutions for non-reporting.

In Nashville, however, Metro police investigate any reporting law violations if there is a suspicion school officials didn’t notify the proper authorities, confirmed police spokesman Don Aaron.

There are active investigations involving Davidson County schools not properly reporting suspected abuse.

“I know they’re telling their staff not to report. … I know for a fact that’s what they’re doing,” Butler said.

“It’s gotten to the point in our office where we’re just going to start prosecuting them.”

The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services opened a new investigation Wednesday into allegations at Brentwood Academy, a school for Nashville’s elite with annual tuition nearly $25,000.  The school has produced at least 10 NFL players.

DCS was unaware of possible child abuse reporting concerns involving Nashville public schools until contacted by The Tennessean.

“In the rare instances that we learn that someone who should have called us did not, we share that information with the local district attorney general’s office to see if its staff wants to prosecute.  That would be the DA’s call, not ours,” DCS spokesman Rob Johnson said in an email.

“We are reaching out to the Davidson County District Attorney General’s office to see what their staff’s specific concerns are about those who do not report child abuse.”

‘I don’t think I’ve gotten explicit instructions’

Metro Nashville Public Schools instructs principals to review abuse reporting policies at the start of every school year, said Tony Majors, executive officer of student services.

“If you have reason to suspect, whether that be visual, behaviors that you observed or a direct statement you’ve received, then you should notify DCS.  It’s DCS’ responsibility to investigate,” Majors said in a Friday interview.

Majors and an MNPS spokeswoman declined to comment on Butler’s statements.  But Majors acknowledged some principals in recent years “misinterpreted” the policy, telling educators to inform administrators first before notifying DCS or law enforcement of suspected abuse.

That confusion could stem from the wording in MNPS’ policy. Principals are listed before DCS on a list of authorities educators should contact if they suspect abuse.

When informed of the list order by The Tennessean, Majors said it was not intended to be chronological but “now that you’ve brought that to my attention we’ll go back and change the policy.”

Majors said the training includes telling teachers DCS’ child abuse hotline number.  Even though the training is required, Majors said the administration isn’t ensuring such training occurs in every school.

Nashville teachers who spoke with The Tennessean said they were told to first contact school counselors, not police or child services, when they suspect abuse.

“I don’t think I’ve gotten explicit instructions on how to file with DCS,” said an MNPS teacher, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about the policy.

“If you believe there is any abuse, you are legally obligated to report it.  But that is within the school.”

This teacher, who’s been employed by the district since 2010, said teachers have seen mixed results in reporting abuse to a counselor.

Instead, teachers will look for an adult at the school who is close to the student and try to learn more about the circumstances, the teacher said.  Once the student feels comfortable, then the teacher said together they will approach a counselor or principal.

While this approach may be well-intentioned, Crump said it could not only compromise a criminal investigation but create the potential for a child to be hurt again.