Principal is Placed on Leave After Sex Abuse of Student Went Unreported
A disturbing news report out of New Haven, Connecticut caught my eye this evening; a story of a principal who has been placed on leave due to failure to report a very serious incident which occurred between some of her students.
On May 31, the sixth, seventh, and eighth-grade students from Lincoln-Bassett School attended a field trip to Lighthouse Point Park. On this field trip, a 14-year old girl said she was sexually abused by some eighth-grade boys from her school, but for some reason, Principal Ramona Gatison failed to notify the Central Office about the incident.
In fact, it was over a week later that the Central Office found out what had happened, when they were notified by the Department of Children and Families. So the question to be answered is: did Gatison know about the abuse, and if so, why didn’t she report it to the proper authorities and to this girl’s parents?
Until those questions are answered, Gatison, who has been a principal of this school since 1998, has been placed on administrative leave, and Superintendent of Schools Reginald Mayo is searching for an interim administrator for the school.
At Monday night’s Board of Education meeting, Mayo refused to get into the details of the case, although he did admit that they learned about the incident through the DCF rather than through Gatison.
Mayo told reporters that some parents had been notified about the incident, but that he planned to send out letters this past Tuesday to the rest of the school’s parents.
In a statement, Mayo said, “This alleged incident should have been reported to Central Office and DCF immediately. The district is conducting its own investigation of these serious and disturbing allegations and how they were handled. We will follow the facts wherever they take us.”
The boys who were involved will be suspended and will have to appear at expulsion hearings. Meanwhile, the girl was moved to a different classroom in the school. (Not quite sure how that is supposed to help…)
Okay, let me weigh in for a moment. First, I would like to believe that Principal Gatison was completely unaware of the incident. It is difficult for me to imagine that she would be privy to this terrible news and bury it.
If she was aware of this attack, the only possible reason she could have for failing to report it was to protect her reputation and that of the school as well. If this is the case, it was a terrible decision which not only harms her reputation and the school’s reputation, but harms the girl who was abused and should have been immediately surrounded and cared for by her principal and her family.
Additionally, any cover-up on her part, if there was one, lets those boys go scot-free. That is simply reprehensible, as these boys need to be dealt with and held accountable for their actions.
I will keep an eye on this one and let you know how it all works out. I continue to hope that Principal Gatison was clueless about the whole thing. Better that than the alternative!