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IPS employees again accused of waiting to report allegations, this time of teacher watching porn

District disciplining five workers over incident
Posted: 5:30 PM, Nov 11, 2016
Updated: 2016-11-12 02:21:43Z

INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis Public Schools is disciplining five employees following allegations of a teacher looking at pornography in the classroom and a three-day delay in reporting those allegations to the proper authorities.

IPS officials released a statement Friday evening:

"On November 7, 2016, Longfellow staff members were made aware of an allegation of the suspected inappropriate conduct of an employee. The school filed a report with Child Protective Services and law enforcement on November 10, 2016. Five employees have entered our internal disciplinary process related to this incident pending further information. Longfellow school leaders completed annual training on IPS administrative guidelines for reporting requirements earlier this school year. Any investigation into the initial allegation will be handled by law enforcement.”

Indianapolis Public Schools police officers were called to Henry W. Longfellow Middle School around 10:30 a.m. Thursday after a student reported to the vice principal that her teacher was looking at porn on his computer.

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Police say the student said they were making fun of the teacher because he was looking at pornographic images and websites on his computer. Another student was seen taking photos of the teacher and posting them on social media.

Police confiscated the teacher’s computers. He was sent to the Indianapolis Public Schools Human Resources Division for a follow-up investigation.

The situation remains under investigation by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and the Indianapolis Public Schools Human Resources Division.

The police report indicates at least one of the incidents involving the teacher happened on Wednesday, November 9.

The teacher accused of watching pornography has not been criminally charged as of Friday afternoon.

Indiana law says you have to immediately report suspected child abuse or neglect to police or the Indiana Department of Child Services.

This is not the first time Longfellow Alternative School has faced a controversy involving a teacher and alleged inappropriate acts with students.

Former Longfellow teacher Shana Taylor is accused of having sex with students while working as a counselor for the district.

She was fired and criminally charged, and multiple other IPS employees have been fired or resigned over the scandal for failing to report the child abuse allegations to police or the Indiana Department of Child Services in a timely manner.

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“Clearly we can do better,” School Board President Mary Ann Sullivan told Call 6 Investigates in an interview this summer.  “The incident was not handled the best it could have been.”

An IPS policy titled “Procedures for Reporting Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect” says all school personnel have a duty to report child abuse allegations to Child Protective Services, and school staff should immediately call the state hotline at 1-800-800-5556.

The policy also states if an employee can’t figure out what to do, they should call the Title IX coordinator or the assistant superintendent for human resources.

Assistant principal William Jensen fought his firing, saying he reported the allegations to human resources who told him not call the police.

Sullivan said their investigation found many employees wrongly assumed someone else had reported the allegations.

“We want to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” said Sullivan.   “We shouldn’t leave anything to chance.”

IPS developed a chain of command type checklist aimed at eliminating confusion:

"The lesson learned is, don't make assumptions,” said Sullivan. “That's a pretty simple lesson learned, but you have to have policy and guidelines in place to make sure that lesson is real."

Sullivan said IPS also retrained some of its staff, including principals, on March 17 and reminded them of their duty to report allegations of child abuse or neglect.