One principal waited several days after a student was injured to tell anyone. Another never told authorities about an abuse allegation at her school. Both are suspended with pay for failing to report possible abuse of special-needs students by their staff.
One principal waited several days after a student was injured to tell anyone. Another never told authorities about an abuse allegation at her school.
Both are suspended with pay for failing to report possible abuse of special-needs students by their staff. It’s against Ohio law for educators to keep quiet when they suspect abuse might have happened.
The educators accused of mistreating their special-needs students also are under investigation and also are accused of failing to report possible abuse.
Andrew J. Smith, the principal at Columbus’ South Mifflin Elementary, has been suspended since Feb. 26. Sullivant Elementary Principal Lisa Stamos was sent home on March 4.
The South Mifflin incident happened on Feb. 20. Records show that Courtney N. Plummer, a teacher who worked with students who have multiple disabilities, was trying to calm a student in her classroom by using a “body sock” — a large, stretchy sack used for therapy purposes mostly for children who have sensory issues. The sock can cover the child entirely but is made of breathable material.
It was not approved for use on the fourth-grader, who records show asked to use it that day. He got inside the sack, became disoriented and fell over, knocking two of his teeth loose. Plummer sought medical attention for the boy immediately and contacted his parents but did not notify the principal or Franklin County Children Services, according to district records.
Smith learned of the incident the next day when the boy’s mother told him. He waited four more days before he contacted authorities or district officials.
Plummer, who has worked in Columbus schools since 2008, declined to comment. She was suspended with pay on Feb. 26.
In a hearing about the case this month, her attorneys said she should not be fired because the body-sock incident was an accident. They argued that she wasn’t required to report because “abuse” isn’t accidental.
At Sullivant, it’s alleged that on Feb. 7, a special-needs aide who was frustrated with a screaming student shook the child by the shoulders, yelling “shut up” at him. Neither the aide accused of shaking the child nor another aide in the classroom told the principal.
Stamos learned of the incident on Feb. 12 but didn’t notify the child’s parent until Feb. 14 and never reported it to authorities. The student cannot speak.
Neither principal could be reached for comment.
Stamos told the district she didn’t think the shaking incident at her school was serious enough to involve children-services agency and that it was one aide’s word against another’s. District records don’t indicate why Smith did not immediately report the body-sock incident at South Mifflin.
Stamos has been with the district since 1991; Smith since 1999.
Superintendent Gene Harris met with principals to reiterate their obligation to report potential abuse, Columbus City Schools spokesman Jeff Warner said in an email.
“Columbus City Schools is taking these reports very seriously,” he said.
Deborah M. Hannan, the aide who is said to have shaken the child, said it never happened. She has resigned.
“I have not done anything to hurt a child. I loved the children and was an advocate,” she said. She was a new hire — still on probation — and said her resignation was not related to the accusation. In fact, she said, the principal told her it wasn’t necessary to report it.
The district suspended Elizabeth S. Andes, another classroom aide who did not initially report what happened. She could not be reached.