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Former Suffield public schools superintendent arrested for failing to report child abuse

SUFFIELD -- Suffield police said that Karen Berasi, the former Superintendent of Suffield Public Schools, has been arrested, and charged with failure to report of abuse or neglect.

The investigation started in May, when police said they began looking into several members of the school administration for failure to report child abuse and neglect as mandatory reporters. Parents voted no confidence in the administration, and the superintendent was placed on leave.

Police said  now, due to the comprehensive and thorough criminal investigations into two, separate allegations of failing to report abuse, they have produced two arrest warrants. The warrants were for two women involved in the investigation: Karen M. Berasi, former superintendent, and Cynthia M. Fisher.

On Thursday, both women surrendered themselves to police, and were charged and processed with failure to report.

The women are expected to be in court November 20.

Police said that leadership of the Town of Suffield, the Suffield Board of Education, and the public school district want to reassure the community that they take their commitment to the safety and security of children very seriously. When learning of the allegations, police said a criminal investigation was launched immediately.

Additionally, town and school leadership have implemented several proactive measures to ensure that such violations do not occur again.

Some of the measures include the following:

  • Enhanced manged reporter refresher training
  • A DCF social worker/investigator has been embedded at the Suffield Police Department at the beginning of October

The Suffield Board of Education sent a message to all families and staff Thursday morning:

To Suffield Families and District Staff,

A warrant for Karen Berasi’s arrest has been issued by the Suffield Police Department in connection with a criminal investigation into whether Ms. Berasi failed to comply with her obligations as a mandated reporter under Connecticut law. We wish to assure the community of Suffield that the safety and welfare of our students remains our foremost concern. We are focused on moving our district forward in the best interest of our students.
The Board would like to thank Mark Winzler, our Interim Superintendent, and Michelle Zawawi, our Assistant Superintendent, for their extraordinary leadership during this time of transition. We look forward to their continued leadership of our school district as we strive for educational excellence. We are also grateful for the dedication and professionalism shown by our administrators, teachers and staff during this time.
The Board accepted the retirement of Karen Berasi earlier this week, effective June 30, 2019. She has been, and will continue to be, relieved of all duties. We anticipate initiating a search process for a new Superintendent of Schools within the next several weeks.

Sincerely,
Suffield Board of Education