Bethel elementary school employee investigated for inappropriate activities with kids

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Courtesy of Bethel Public Schools

BETHEL–An elementary school teacher is being investigated for having inappropriate contact with minor children.

Superintendent Christine Carver wrote a letter to the community about the “inappropriate activities” that took place at Frank Berry Elementary School and ensured parents that the staff member was immediately placed on administrative leave with pay. She also said the employee was barred from school property or from having contact with the district’s computer system. The employee has since resigned.

According to the letter, State Police Major Crime Squad, as well as local police, are investigating the matter and it so far seems that the employee sent information about his inappropriate activities to people within the district, and others from outside.

According to the letter from Carver, applicants are not only put through a full background and criminal records check, but are also checked against the DCF registry.

The district is offering counseling services for students and staff starting on Monday, February 23.

Here is the full letter that was sent to the community, and below that you can find a letter that was sent to staff members before the full letter went out to everyone.

Dear Parents, Guardians, and Staff Members:

District officials learned yesterday that one of our staff members at Berry School is under investigation for inappropriate activities with minor children. Upon learning of the pending investigation, the staff member was placed immediately on administrative leave with pay and steps were taken to ensure that the employee would not come onto school property or have access to the district’s computer system. The employee has since resigned employment with the Bethel Public Schools.

State and local authorities are investigating this matter and district officials are cooperating fully with the investigation. The district has reason to believe that the former staff member in question has sent information about the activities to certain members of the school community as well as others with no affiliation with the Bethel Public Schools. We ask that any member of our school community who has received any such information immediately share that information with the State Police Major Crime Squad, Southbury Troop A, Detective Flynn, 203-267-2225, so as to aid the authorities in the investigatory process. In the event that any member of our community has information or concerns regarding this matter, you may also contact Superintendent of Schools Dr. Christine Carver and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kristen Brooks to share that information and/or discuss your concerns.

Clearly, any allegation of inappropriate contact with minors is disturbing and causes concerns about the safety of the children in our school community. Please be reassured that the safety of children is our foremost concern and there are many policies and procedures in place to ensure the wellbeing of all our children. For example, all district employees are subject to background checks that include criminal records and the DCF registry prior to hire. Additionally, the State of Connecticut requires anyone engaged in a profession that involves regular interaction with children, to report to the Department of Children and Families (“DCF”) any suspected child abuse, neglect, or any instances in which a child has been placed in imminent danger. DCF then investigates any such allegations and works cooperatively with school district officials to promote the safety of children.

The district has arranged for counseling services to be available for students and staff members with concerns regarding this situation at Berry School on Monday, February 23, 2015. Parents are encouraged to contact any administrator who is available to discuss any specific concerns a parent may have, whether on Monday or subsequently. In addition, administrators may work with families to obtain social worker and/or psychological support as appropriate. All of these individuals are trained to handle allegations of this nature, and will treat a parent’s concerns seriously and thoroughly.

I am sending this letter to all members of our school community because of the gravity of the allegations and a desire to keep the entire school community informed about these troubling reports. If you have any specific concerns please do not hesitate to contact me.

Dr. Christine Carver
Superintendent of schools

Here is the letter sent to staff members:

Dear Bethel Public Schools Staff:

District officials learned yesterday that one of our staff members at Berry School is under investigation for inappropriate activities with minor children. The attached letter will be sent to the school community this afternoon in order to provide parents and staff members with information about how to provide information with the investigating authorities and also how to access support services for concerns related to the investigation. I am providing this information to you to enable you to respond appropriately to inquiries that may be directed to you about the investigation and/or related to requests for support services. In the event that you receive formal or informal inquiries from other staff members, parents, the media, or other persons related to this matter, such inquiries should be directed to the Superintendent’s office. Students making inquiries may be directed to the school principal.

Clearly, any allegation of inappropriate contact with minors is disturbing and causes concerns about the safety of the children in our school community. It is likely that parents and others will have questions and/or concerns, particularly as information becomes available in the media or otherwise. Unfortunately, rumors and speculation that are shared in and among school staff members, or disseminated more widely in the school community, may detract from the integrity of the investigation and be harmful to individuals involved in the investigation, and will certainly distract our school community from instructional activities. For those reasons, we ask that you refrain from engaging in gossip and/or speculation about the process. As more information becomes public in this matter, the administration will share the information as appropriate. Thank you for your cooperation.

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