Parents not told children might be victims of abuse - Tucson News Now

FOX19 INVESTIGATES: Parents not told children might be victims of abuse

KINGS MILLS, OH (FOX19) -

Some parents in Warren County are up-in-arms after learning last night from a FOX19 investigation of the Kings Local School District Board's campaign of secrecy surrounding allegations that a former teacher may have mistreated special needs students at Columbia Elementary.

Now, FOX19 has obtained a copy of the written district policy on how school employees should handle "cases of suspected child abuse or neglect." In the very first directive, school employees are told they "shall not contact the child's family."

We contacted every board member today and asked them if they were willing to sit down with us to explain why that policy is in place. Instead, board president Bonnie Baker-Hicks sent us a statement that, she revealed, had been approved by their lawyer. The statement said school leaders "communicate with parents as appropriate." It also said the district complies with Ohio law. But there is no law mandating parents be informed of possible child abuse, according to Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell.

"I know as a parent what my preference would be," he added.

No board member responded to further inquiries from FOX19 about the policy after Baker-Hicks sent the statement this afternoon.

Cincinnati attorney Chris Finney, who's suing the school district for records detailing the district's investigation, tells FOX19 parents who had a child in Amanda Kitcho's class were never told by school leaders that their son or daughter may have been the victim of verbal or physical abuse. At least one family found out when they received an anonymous letter, said Finney.

He filed the lawsuit that put the allegations into the public record. Specifically, in the court documents, he cites a teacher's aide in Kitcho's classroom who said some students were pushed and shoved and verbally abused.

Kitcho's attorney, John R. Doll of Dayton, said last night a criminal investigation "exonerated" her.

Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell told FOX19 today he found the allegations "disturbing." However, he said he could not pursue felony charges against Kitcho because there was no evidence or allegation that a student suffered "serious physical harm." He also revealed that it was his office which received the initial report of possible abuse, which he forwarded to sheriff's investigators.

Doll did not respond today to FOX19's questions about the prosecutor's comments and other information we learned about Kitcho, including the fact that she now works part-time at a Catholic Church.

Father Jan K. Schmidt of St. Margaret of York Church in Loveland says Kitcho's position is "entirely clerical." In response to a FOX19 inquiry he also told us, "She does not have direct contact with children."

We learned of Kitcho's hiring after obtaining the church's bulletin from February 3 in which Father Schmidt announced that she was now a part of the church's staff.

Copyright 2013 WXIX. All rights reserved.

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