Why did Mt. Vernon wait 17 days to report alleged abuse?

FORTVILLE, Ind. -- Why did it take 17 days for allegations of sexual misconduct between a Mt. Vernon Schools employee and a student to be reported to authorities?

Mt. Vernon Middle School teacher's aide & substitute teacher Kisha Nuckols faces multiple charges of child seduction for alleged relationships with at least six current and former Mt. Vernon students.

PREVIOUS | Mt. Vernon Schools teacher's aide accused of inappropriate relationships with at least 6 students

According to a probable cause affidavit filed last week, Mt. Vernon Middle School Principal Scott Shipley first learned of allegations of a relationship between Nuckols and a student on March 12. But it wasn't until March 29 that Mt. Vernon High School Asst. Principal Derek Shelton says Shipley contacted him.

Shelton contacted Fortville police the same day he learned of the allegations against Nuckols.

Indiana state law requires school employees to report allegations of abuse against students immediately.

Kisha Nuckols is at least the ninth Indiana school employee or educator accused of misconduct with minors since 2015. See a gallery of others facing similar charges here.

Mt. Vernon Schools Superintendent Dr. Shane Robbins told RTV6 the district is investigating why it took so long for the allegations against Nuckols to be report to police.

"There is no excuse for the delay in reporting," Robbins said. "It is true we hear a number of rumors, that does not relieve our employees from providing an employee with the appropriate level of due process and fulfilling their duty to report. I am in the process of reviewing all of the timelines and statements and will discipline the involved staff members accordingly."

Robbins said administrators have met with all district employees to discuss their obligation to report suspected child abuse and staff misconduct. All staff members will also have to complete new, annual training on sexual misconduct reporting requirements.

An arrest warrant for Nuckols was issued, though police said she was not yet in their custody. Robbins said termination paperwork was being finalized and a no-trespass order was fil against Nuckols on March 30.

Robbins said the district's social media policy prohibits staff members from contacting students through social media unless it's part of a pre-approved curricular or extracurricular activity.

On Monday, parents with students at Mt. Vernon Schools received the following letter from Robbins:

Last Friday, I sent out a message about a student sexual misconduct claim involving a Mt. Vernon Middle School teacher’s aide and a Mt. Vernon High School student. During this time we were working closely with the Fortville Police Department and both parties agreed to synchronize our releases as to not impede the investigation. Because of this, communication had to be limited.

Last week we did suspend the alleged employee and collected all of her building keys. She was also given a directive to not come on school grounds. The employee will be recommended for termination and this will be finalized once ratified by the Board of School Trustees. It is true we hear a number of rumors, however, that does not relieve our administration from providing an employee with the appropriate level of due process and fulfilling their duty to report. I am in the process of reviewing all of the timelines and statements and will discipline the involved staff members accordingly. Because it is a personnel matter, I will not discuss the details of the punitive action taken.

My primary concern as we move forward is how can we learn from this and improve our protocols as a school district. While I would like to think this will never happen in our school(s) again, however, this type of occurrence appears to be more frequent in our society. Please be assured that if we ever face this type of situation in the future, we will proceed by following these immediate action steps: 1) We will notify law enforcement and child protective services so they can determine if criminal or child abuse charges need to be pursued, 2) We will investigate the situation and determine if our staff acted properly in supervising the students and addressing the identified behaviors, 3) We will discipline staff and students following the required due process, involving the necessary parents in the process.

What have we done as a district?

  • We met with all faculty and staff members in the buildings and discussed every employee’s obligation to report suspected child abuse and/or staff misconduct.
  • We ensured they understood that reporting to an administrator or colleague does not alleviate them from their obligation to report.
  • The district utilizes a staff training program called “safe schools” for training on bloodborne pathogens and bullying. etc. Moving forward we will also utilize this training protocol for Sexual Misconduct Staff to Student and Reporting Requirements. All staff members will complete this training and have documentation placed in their personnel files. It will be an annual requirement.

I will recommend to the Board of School Trustees that we reevaluate our board

policy that refers to student supervision, social media, etc. and make the appropriate modifications.

In closing, I want to reiterate that I truly believe our schools are safe, caring, and nurturing to our students. We will stay committed and resilient to ensure we not only keep them that way, but are continuously improving to provide an optimal learning environment for all our students.

The issue at Mt. Vernon Schools comes to light as Indianapolis Public Schools deals with its own allegations of failure to report possible child abuse in a timely manner.

In February, IPS officials learned of sexual abuse allegations against a school counselor, Shana Taylor. Records show no one from IPS reported the allegations to DCS until six days later, though.

CALL 6 | IPS counselor arrested on child seduction charges | IPS waited 6 days to report alleged abuse to DCS | IPS mum on discipline 1 month after counselor controversy

Taylor was arrested and is facing child seduction charges in the case. IPS officials have remained quiet about what, if any, discipline employees who failed to report will face.

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