4 Marion County Schools employees disciplined after alleged failure to report abuse to DCF

Anthony Elementary School principal reassigned after allegation

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MARION COUNTY, Fla. – Four Marion County Schools employees -- the former principal of Anthony Elementary School and three school officials -- have been reprimanded after an allegation that they did not report abuse to the Department of Children and Families after being notified by a parent that a developmentally disabled first-grader was alleged to have been touched inappropriately.

Officials said the allegation was received on Nov. 6 after a parent notified someone at the school that her child told her that she had been touched at school and hurt the week of Oct. 23.

The report says the child told officials, "The man would not allow the child to use the bathroom and told the child he would kill ... with a knife if ... didn't do what he says." 

Department of Children and Families investigators met with the child's parents on Nov. 9. The mother told investigators that she had become uncomfortable with her child's teacher
and had noticed that her child was having accidents and soiling herself.

The school's principal at the time, Lisa Coy, told the mother to give the teacher time.

The mother told investigators that her child repeatedly told her after the incident that she did not want to go to school and would cry as she described the man touching her, calling him a "big fat man with a beard," "a bearded man with a knife" and "a monster."

The mother told investigators that she called the school on Oct. 26 and left an emergency message for the principal with the school's secretary.

The mother went to the school and made sure that her child was OK, but she did not receive a call back from the principal until the next day in the afternoon.
The mother called another member of the teaching staff on Oct. 30 but was not called back until the next day.

The mother withdrew her child from the school on Nov. 1 and the principal called the mother on Nov. 2, stating that she had heard the mother had a concern.

Investigators concluded that the allegation of abuse could not be substantiated.

Additionally, they said, the parents had taken matters into their own hands by reporting the allegation to DCF and had failed to get help from the school's principal, assistant principal, guidance counselor and school secretary.

But the school's principal, assistant principal and guidance counselor were found to have violated the Principles of Professional Conduct for the Education Profession in Florida and to have failed to make a reasonable effort to protect the student from conditions harmful to learning or a student's mental or physical health or safety.

The school secretary is also accused of violating the policy for reporting misconduct.

Officials with Marion County Schools said the principal was transferred to another school, where she is an assistant principal, and the three other employees received letters of reprimand in their personnel folders.