Su­per­in­ten­dent prom­ises more sex­ual abuse train­ing for staff

Hill, in­terim prin­ci­pal to at­tend Ben­jamin Stod­dert info night

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com

Charles County Pub­lic Schools will train ev­ery em­ployee re­gard­ing child sex­ual abuse through the Stew­ards of Chil­dren pro­gram, Su­per­in­ten­dent Kim­berly Hill said dur­ing her first school board ad­dress of the 2017-18 school year.

Hill ad­dressed the im­pact of the charges against Car­los Bell, 30, of Wal­dorf, a for­mer track coach and in­struc­tional as­sis­tant at Ben­jamin Stod­dert Mid­dle School who was re­cently charged with 119 counts re­lated to the sex­ual abuse of chil­dren and pos­si­ble HIV trans­mis­sion. Author­i­ties al­lege Bell vic­tim­ized at least 24 chil­dren over the course of two years.

Bell came to the at­ten­tion of author­i­ties when a par­ent at La Plata High School, where he coached track, re­ported an in­ap­pro­pri­ate text mes­sage, but charges did not come un­til June when graphic images of Bell com­mit­ting sex­ual abuse were al­legedly found on his elec­tronic de­vices which had been sent to the state crime lab.

Bell was re­as­signed to the cen­tral of­fice pend­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion and told not to have con­tact with stu­dents. Bell was ter­mi­nated af­ter fail­ing to show up to work at his new as­sign­ment.

“We are co­op­er­at­ing fully, as we have since De­cem­ber, with the of­fi­cers in­ves­ti­gat­ing this heinous crime,” Hill said.

Hill also an­nounced that she and Stod­dert’s in­terim prin­ci­pal, Marvin Jones, will at­tend the sec­ond par­ent in­for­ma­tion night at the school on Aug. 16.

The first meet­ing was held on July 28 un­der then-prin­ci­pal Ken­neth Schroek, and Hill did not at­tend. The first meet­ing was held in the for­mat of small, fa­cil­i­ta­tor-led fo­cus groups, where par­ents were asked how they felt and how the school’s re­la­tion­ship with par­ents could be im­proved. The meet­ing be­came chaotic, with some par­ents storm­ing out.

Schroek was re­moved from his po­si­tion and trans­ferred to the Of­fice of Sup­port­ing Ser­vices three days later fol­low­ing the an­nounce­ment of the 119-count in­dict­ment.

Hill said the for­mat for the sec­ond meet­ing has been changed in re­sponse to par­ents’ com­ments.

Hill said the non­profit Cen­ter for Chil­dren will be pro­vid­ing sex­ual abuse preven­tion train­ing for ad­min­is­tra­tors dur­ing the school sys­tem’s Lead­er­ship In­sti­tute next week.

Over the fol­low­ing month, ev­ery em­ployee will be trained through the Stew­ards of Chil­dren pro­gram, a train­ing sys­tem de­signed to teach adults how to pre­vent, rec­og­nize and re­act re­spon­si­bly to child sex­ual abuse us­ing real peo­ple and real sto­ries, ac­cord­ing to the web­site for Dark­ness to Light, a Charleston, S.C.based non­profit aimed at end­ing child sex­ual abuse.

Sim­i­lar train­ings and pre­sen­ta­tions will be of­fered for par­ents dur­ing the fall and win­ter through par­ent-teacher or­ga­ni­za­tion meet­ings, Hill said.

Ken­neth Savoid, a school cross­ing guard at Ben­jamin Stod­dert, was the sole speaker dur­ing the pub­lic com­ments phase of Tues­day’s meet­ing and ad­dressed the rev­e­la­tions of child sex­ual abuse at the school.

“I have to say, that I am ap­palled that this is go­ing on here in Charles County,” said Savoid, a re­tired of­fi­cer of the Prince Ge­orge’s County Po­lice Depart­ment and White Plains res­i­dent. “This is a prob­lem that has resur­faced and gone on too long.”

Savoid ad­dressed re­cent re­ports of child abuse in Prince Ge­orge’s County Pub­lic Schools as well, say­ing, “I solemnly sug­gest that both you and Prince Ge­orge’s County get it to­gether and trade ideas.”

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