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Federal investigators determine Guernsey school district responded appropriately to reports of sexual misconduct

Federal investigators determine Guernsey school district responded appropriately to reports of sexual misconduct

Guernsey-Sunrise School

Guernsey-Sunrise School

Federal investigators concluded that Platte County School District No. 2 responded appropriately to reports of sexual misconduct involving kindergartners last year.

"After careful consideration of all the evidence, (the Office of Civil Rights) concludes that the District has taken steps to understand what occurred and respond appropriately," an attorney for the office, which is part of the U.S. Department of Education, wrote to the family who made the complaint.

A family alleged in February that their 6-year-old was sexually assaulted by a classmate and that the district did not adequately respond to the incident. The district told the family that it had swiftly referred the allegations to the state Department of Family Services and the local police department. The family later filed a Title IX complaint with federal authorities, which prompted the Office of Civil Rights to open an investigation in April.

The investigations and, frequently, the conclusions of these investigations are confidential. The federal Education Department confirmed that it closed the investigation and that the district had made changes. The letter that described the investigation in more detail was provided to the Star-Tribune by the family.

An email to the district's superintendent was not returned Wednesday. He previously declined to comment on the investigation.

The letter describes both the district's response to the initial report in February, as well as the police investigation. The document states that the kindergartner who was accused of inappropriately touching his classmate was suspended for eight days and was later placed in a separate classroom, though a challenge by his parents placed him back in the general class.

The letter also indicates the school hired more educators to monitor behavior, had increased training, offered therapy to students and evaluated district policies, among other changes. 

Police did in fact investigate the incident and apparently concluded that inquiry by Feb. 20, two weeks after the incident, according to the letter.

"By February 20, 2019, local law enforcement had interviewed both the (victim) and (alleged perpetrator)," the letter states. "Although law enforcement did not share any written documentation of the interviews, it informed the District that the report by the (victim) was 'somewhat accurate' and that 'something had happened' to her, but that the interview of (the alleged perpetrator) did not substantiate the (victim's) report."

For its part, the district told federal investigators that it had substantiated at least part of the report via surveillance footage.

The parents of the victim told the Star-Tribune they were displeased with the result and that they still felt more changes and action were needed. They initially pulled their daughter from school last year, though she has returned to school this year. 

A man who identified himself as a relative of the student who was disciplined in the incident told the Star-Tribune in a phone call and message earlier this year that the child had been cleared by mental health professionals in Casper and that the public characterization of the incident was incorrect. He declined a follow-up interview.


Education and Health Reporter

Seth Klamann joined the Star-Tribune in 2016 and covers education and health. A 2015 graduate of the University of Missouri and proud Kansas City native, Seth worked for newspapers in Milwaukee and Omaha before coming to Casper.

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