INDIANAPOLIS -- Two Indianapolis Public School officials, Shalon Dabney and Lela Hester, were charged Wednesday with failure to report in connection with sexual abuse allegations against former counselor Shana Taylor.
State law requires schools to immediately report abuse or neglect allegations to law enforcement or the Indiana Department of Child Services.
Longfellow Alternative School officials were made aware of the allegations on Feb.17 when a parent came to the school and said she saw several text and Facebook messages between her son and Taylor.
The assistant principal said he forwarded the messages and photos to Lela Hester, the Director of Human Resources for IPS. Hester then forwarded them to Shalon Dabney, the case worker from human resources.
The next day Shana Taylor was on administrative leave.
Hester sent an e-mail on Feb. 18. that said, "I asked that the school police stay out of it so that she is not charged and we can handle from an HR perspective but I don't know if the mom plans to file charges."
Dabney said she didn't realize the incident had not been reported to DCS until she couldn't find the paperwork.
However, in court documents, a detective said "... it is apparent Dabney had more than enough relevant facts about the incident by February 18, 2016 at the absolute latest, to know this should have been reported to DCS immediately."
A detective with the sex crimes division of IMPD received a report from the Department of Child Services on Feb. 23 about Taylor.
Timeline of IPS Response to Counselor Allegations
- February 17 – School made aware of allegations
- February 18 – Taylor reports to IPS HR
- 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
In a news conference on March 4, IPS Superintendent Dr. Lewis Ferebee vowed the administration would “aggressively issue discipline accordingly” for what he called a “clear case of incompetence.”
However, it’s still not clear if anyone has been disciplined for the error.
Dabney and Hester were only two of the IPS officials who could have faced sanctions for not immediately reporting the abuse allegations. The others include Assistant Principal William Jensen, Director of Student Services Deb Leser, Positive Supports Academy ex-Principal Mark Cosand, and Ferebee himself.
"As we looked at the totality of the evidence that was gathered, and listening to the statements of the individuals, we felt it was not appropriate to charge anyone beyond these two. The assistant principal first received the information and then was immediately sick. He then called the principal, who was out on medical leave at the time," said Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry.
Ferebee released a statement Tuesday night after news of the charges broke:
"We are grateful for the thoroughness and professionalism of the Marion County Prosecutor's Office in this matter. IPS will tolerate nothing less than the safest and most secure learning environment possible for our students, teachers, and support personnel. Today's announcement by the Prosecutor's Office in no way undermines or diminishes the progress IPS continues to make every day in our schools, and I appreciate all the support we continue to receive from parents and the IPS family."
Shana Taylor has been placed on GPS monitoring and was ordered to stay away from all schools.
She is due back in court on May 4.