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Principal resigns after failure to report abuse

Posted: 5:12 PM, Mar 14, 2016
Updated: 2016-03-15 00:30:30Z

INDIANAPOLIS -- An Indianapolis Public School Principal has resigned amid allegations he failed to report allegations of child abuse in a timely manner.

PREVIOUS | IPS waited six days to report the alleged abuse to Indiana Department of Child Services.

Mark Cosand stepped down as principal of Positive Supports Academy, effective March 7, records show.

He told Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney he learned of abuse allegations against IPS counselor Shana Taylor on February 18.

He and five other school officials failed to immediately report the information to the Indiana Department of Child Services.

Cosand previously worked for the Indiana Department of Child Services in 2013 and 2014 as an educational liaison, according to his LinkedIn page.

“It’s a hard pill to swallow,” said Cosand in an interview with Call 6 Investigates.  “It didn’t cross my mind to say, 'Hey did you guys file?’  because so many people already knew about it.”

Cosand denied Monday that the resignation is completely tied to the Taylor controversy.

“I resigned for medical reasons,” Cosand told Kenney. “I had a stroke in January and that’s why I was out to begin with. I came back too soon.”

Cosand said while on leave, he came in to Longfellow Alternative School to help out Assistant Principal Mr. William Jensen.

Jensen learned of the Shana Taylor allegations on February 17 when a parent reported Taylor had an inappropriate sexual relationship with her son, court records show.

The school district did not file a report with DCS until February 23, six days after Jensen learned of the allegations.

Timeline of IPS Response to Counselor Allegations

  • February 17: School made aware of allegations
  • February 18: Cosand said he learned of allegations
  • February 18: IPS Suspends Taylor
  • February 21: Call 6 Contacts IPS about Taylor
  • February 23: IPS Contacts Dept. of Child Services
  • February 25: Police arrest Taylor
  • March 2: Prosecutors formally charge Taylor
  • March 4: IPS fires Taylor

Taylor is accused of having sex multiple times with two students, sometimes during the actual school day. The 37-year-old faces 11 charges, including several counts of child seduction. 

PREVIOUS |  IPS counselor's attorney says she is full of regret

Jensen, Cosand and other school officials have not yet been criminally charged for failure to report the abuse allegations in a timely fashion.

CALL 6 | IPS officials may face criminal charges for delay

“There were so many people who knew about it before I did,” said Cosand. “I don’t think it’s necessarily fair to hold me accountable.  But, the prosecutor is going to do what he thinks is best.”

Cosand echoed Dr. Lewis Ferebee’s statement that there was a “breakdown in communication” and that everyone thought someone else had reported the abuse allegations.

“That’s where I fell in,” said Cosand. “My main concern was making sure Ms. Taylor did not come into the building. I felt like everything else was taken care of.”

Cosand said while he is resigning his position, he is not leaving the school district completely.

“I’m going to be out until the end of April,” said Cosand. “I figured it would be better if I resigned so they could get someone in there to replace me.”

Cosand also noted that he never noticed any red flags from Taylor, despite his previous work with DCS.

The former principal said IPS has a lot of work to do.

“There were so many levels of trust broken by this one incident,” said Cosand. “Everyone involved has to work to repair that with the public, and that does include me.”

Read Dr. Ferebee's full statement on the issue below:

“These are difficult times. There seems to be an unfortunate and appalling surge of adults in our noblest profession who do not do the right thing. This certainly impacts our district, and also our community and broader education system.

To be clear, adults who for whatever reason, lack the moral substance, to ensure the safety of students and do their jobs as educators are an acute abnormality in our profession. They do not reflect the thousands of honorable, dedicated, and talented educators in IPS or the tens of thousands in our state who are among three million across our nation.

Indianapolis Public Schools teachers are among the most hard-working, compassionate and conscientious educators you will find. They tirelessly give their wisdom, time and even their personal resources without hesitation to prepare our students for success. These caring adults go above and beyond each day to ensure our students are achieving in the classroom, and they’re also willingly stand in the gap for students who come to school lacking some of the most basic needs.

In the matter of the employee who is recommended for termination of employment today and charged with allegedly engaging in sexual acts with one or more students, I will provide confirmed information to date, as the police investigation is still ongoing.

I will also share findings from an independent review of district reporting in this ongoing case, and next steps regarding individuals and districtwide efforts.

An independent investigation has revealed the chain of events regarding the reporting of the allegations.

On the evening of Wednesday, February 17, a parent reported to an assistant principal at our Positive Supports Academy (also known as the Longfellow building) that a female school counselor had been involved in an inappropriate relationship with a male student.

There is no indication that the counselor was having inappropriate sexual relationships with students prior to the report from the parent on the evening of February 17.

After talking with the parent, the assistant principal consulted with the principal, who was on medical leave. The principal came in to help address the situation. Neither administrator contacted Child Protective Services.

According to state statute, Board policy and administrative guidelines, when the school administrator (or any staff member) is notified or learns of inappropriate relationships with a student, he or she must report that immediately; in this situation that did not occur.

The assistant principal immediately contacted the director of student services.

The director, inaccurately assuming the school administrators had followed the first step of the policy, directed the assistant principal to immediately contact human resources to address the dire personnel matter.

Human resources, assuming CPS had been contacted by the school administrators, instantly sought to ensure the accused employee had no further access to our students, pending an investigation into the allegations.

It appears everyone involved focused on isolating the employee. However, all who were involved and knowledgeable of the relevant facts agreed they were aware of their reporting obligations.

At the corpus of these careless errors, is a very disappointing tangle of miscommunication.

Staff assumed a report had been made to CPS without confirming until days later whether school administrators had adhered strictly to policy. The error was discovered on Monday, February 22 by an employee who was processing the school counselor’s personnel file for recommendation for termination. The principal completed the report and transmitted it to CPS on February 23 – yet another unacceptable delay.

This is clearly not the case of a cover up or any malicious intent not to report sexual relations between an adult and student.

I commend our employees for ensuring that safety was our first priority by immediately working to bar the accused employee’s access to our students.

Still, that effort does not negate the fact that the employees who had the relevant facts did not fulfil our reporting responsibility. I am very disturbed that reporting the allegations did not occur in a timely manner. The district has explicit procedures; and again, the individuals who were privy to the relevant facts, admittedly, were aware of those obligations.

This is a clear case of incompetence; and the administration will aggressively issue discipline accordingly.

As for the employee that is accused of engaging in lewd behaviors with at least one student, I am told there is still an active investigation into the alleged acts and parties that were involved.

That individual will not return to Indianapolis Public Schools, in any capacity.

Our talented workforce will not be collectively tainted by the deplorable acts of any individual.

The safety of our students is our first priority. Our job is to not only educate students, but to also protect them. Situations that compromise student safety must be addressed by adhering to policies and procedures.

We have directed our school leaders to immediately review the policies and administrative guidelines that are included in the Guide to Emergency Procedures. This user-friendly book was revised in 2014, and it includes sequential instructions for what to do in a crisis situation. These books are housed in each school.

Districtwide training is being planned with an external agency to provide staff with more useful information and affirm expectations around safety protocols.

These breakdowns are unacceptable and simply cannot occur. Neither, I nor our Board take this matter lightly; and the administration is working to address this concern.

To my fellow IPS parents, we appreciate that you trust us every day with your children. We value that greatly; and we will do everything within our means to continue earning your trust.”

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