St. Joseph superintendent: Principal handled abuse complaints co - KCTV5

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St. Joseph superintendent: Principal handled abuse complaints correctly

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ST. JOSEPH, MO (KCTV) -

Parents are angry about what a St. Joseph, MO, boy is accused of doing to their kids and they're not happy with how the school handled it. Since September, three parents have filed police reports against the boy.

A warning to viewers: this story involves details that are graphic in nature.

Just this week, a little girl at Hosea Elementary School in St. Joseph told her mother a little boy had been pinching and touching her private area in the classroom and on the playground when the teachers weren't looking.

"I want to know how it happened?" said the mother whose identity KCTV5 is concealing to protect her daughter. "Why were we not aware as parents that we were dropping our kids off to somewhere that's not safe and this could happen to them?"

The mother said on Monday night she learned from friends there were accusations against a 5-year-old boy in her daughter's kindergarten classroom that he was bullying children and touching some of the girls in their private areas. When she asked her daughter about it, she was heartbroken at the answer.

"She said, ‘yes mommy, he touches me right here.' And pointed to her pants. At that moment I just hugged her," the mother said. "(She said) that her bad parts hurt because he touches them, he pinches them and he rubs them all the time."

She said her daughter explained the boy would pinch and rub her and other girls' private areas when the adults weren't around. The daughters said it even happened on the slide on the playground. The daughter told her teacher about it and the boy was placed in time-out.

"That school was a place where our kids are supposed to be safe. They knew my daughter said in counseling that adults knew and just put the boy in time-out. They didn't let us parents know this was happening in their care," the mom said.

The mom filed a police report on Wednesday, but she wasn't alone.The St. Joseph Police Department confirmed yet another parent filed a report this week.

Police and the Missouri Department of Social Services, Children's Division are also investigating a case reported in September against the same little boy accused of shoving an object in a little girl's private area.

KCTV5 is also concealing the identity of the mother from the first reported incident in September. She said when she put her daughter in the shower, she suddenly discovered green Play-Doh coming out of her private area.

"I was in shock, I knew someone had put it there," the first mom said. "I turned the water off, got her out, started talking to her and I was crying and very emotional. She told me that it was Play-Doh, that a boy in her class put Play-Doh around her private area."

The first mother took her daughter to the hospital, filed a police report and notified the school. She wanted the little boy to get help to prevent it from happening to another child.

"They could have taken him out, got him in counseling. I asked the principal if he could issue a letter or a meeting with parents to let them know. He was unwilling to do that," she said.

School district leaders say they followed procedures and immediately notified DFS as well as took steps with the student that they can't reveal due to privacy laws.

"It was dealt with according to what we felt was best for all kids and the safety of all kids," said Dr. Jake Long, the director of student services. "The No. 1 concern within the St. Joe School District is the safety of our kids. Our building principal and our leaders within the local educational site have been in continuous communication with those parents specifically."

School district leaders explained what was done and why to protect students after the first reported incident five months ago.

"I can't speak to the specifics of any of those situations because of the investigation that is going on with the state department and our local law enforcement," Long said.

When asked if the student was still in the classroom, he said he couldn't speak to that because of student confidentiality.

Both mothers said they're angry and the district failed to make sure the boy wasn't hurting any more victims.

"I am in shock. I just feel like these children were let down. I don't know what to think. School is a safe spot, you should feel safe and be safe there and be watched over," the first one said.

"They are completely aware of this kid being violent and sexually violent on other kids, there have been reports. Why wasn't the little boy helped? He needed help, he was crying out for help," the second one said.

The mom said she and several parents are meeting with an attorney to file a lawsuit. They are demanding answers about how the incidents were handled.

Days after the story made headlines, the superintendent of the school district sent a letter to parents talking about the incidents. In it, Dr. Fred Czerwonka said he believes the school's principal handled the situation correction:

"Dear Friends and Families,

"Several days ago, allegations were aired regarding seriously inappropriate student behavior at Hosea Elementary School. As a parent and an educator, I certainly understand how frightening these allegations are, especially given that we are talking about kindergarteners. My heart goes out to all concerned."

"Since then, however, we have revisited our processes and reviewed our actions. Today, I want to assure the Hosea parents and our community that the Hosea Principal, Mr. Kevin Carroll, handled this situation by the book."

"In fact, I want to thank him for his professionalism in following our process and in dealing with this issue. He notified authorities, cooperated with authorities, and from the very beginning, took appropriate action to ensure the safety and welfare of all students. On a personal note, I have been in Hosea several times during the past week and have seen firsthand the professionalism and deeply caring nature of both the principal and the teacher involved. The students at Hosea are safe and are being taken care of by the staff."

"I would remind everyone that when individual students are involved, we are extremely constrained as to what we can say. The law requires us to protect the privacy of all students – in this case, both the accused and the accuser."

"I want to caution everyone that we are talking about five-year-old children. While that fact heightens the emotionality of this issue, it should also give us pause given their developmental level."

"We will continue to scrutinize our procedures and policies, and we will continue to put kids first."

Sincerely,

Dr. Fred Czerwonka
Superintendent of Schools"

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