Jefferson County Public Schools has fired seven employees after a report from a federal agency listed 13 incidents in which staff abused or neglected children.
The incidents were reported by parents or JCPS staffers between Dec. 1, 2016 and May 18 at 10 JPCS sites. The violations ranged from employees raising their voices toward two 4-year-olds, to yanking a child by the arm, grabbing a child by the collar, hitting and dragging a child to his cot and slapping a child in the face.
JCPS “did not ensure all staff abided by the program’s standards of conduct refraining from maltreatment of or endangering the health and safety of children,” the Administration for Children and Families wrote in its report. The ACF includes the Office of Head Start.
JCPS spokeswoman Allison Martin told Insider that JCPS, after learning of the incidents, contacted the appropriate authorities, which included Louisville Metro Police Department.
LMPD could not immediately tell Insider which of the incidents it is investigating and the status of those investigations.
Martin told Insider that the seven JCPS employees were fired after the appointment of Acting Superintendent Marty Pollio, but she did not have details on the timing, though she said they were not all fired on the same day and held a variety of positions.
Insider has filed a public records request with the district to obtain the names and positions of the fired employees.
Martin said Pollio was not available for an interview Wednesday, but in an emailed statement, the superintendent said, “When it comes to employees and behavior that is improper, there is no tolerance.”
“Compliance with policies and procedures (at all) levels is a priority for me as acting superintendent and a clear directive that is being communicated to all schools and program,” Pollio said.
“JCPS self-reported these particular issues to Head Start and is working diligently to comply with all regulations. We’ve been proactive in updating policies, conducting trainings and strategically planning a transition to early childhood centers throughout the district,” he said.
Martin said a committee led by Pollio and Acting Chief Academic Officer Carmen Coleman is working to generate a response to the ACF, which has to occur by Oct. 27, and to formulate an action plan to make sure that similar incidents do not occur again and, if they do, that they are reported in a more timely manner.
The ACF also had criticized the district for letting too much time lapse before reporting some of the incidents and for incidents in which staffers left young children unsupervised.
The abuse incidents listed in the ACF report:
- Oct. 28, 2016, Zachary Taylor Elementary: A parent reported that when she dropped off her preschool child, the instructional assistant “yanked her child by the arm and stated, ‘I’m not putting up with this today.’”
- Dec. 1, 2016, George Unseld Early Childhood Center: After an anonymous call to Child Protective Services, a review found that a teacher raised her voice, spoke harshly to and verbally threatened children, grabbed them by the arms, took a child into a closet and forcefully put a child on a cot.
- Dec. 12, 2016, Tully Elementary: When a 3-year-old refused a teacher’s instruction to stop pouring his milk out of the carton onto his fruit and threw milk and fruit onto the table, “the teacher scooped the items off the table, put them back onto the child’s tray, wrapped the child between her arms and legs and forced him to eat the items.”
- Jan. 12, Carrithers Middle School: After a child began screaming for being reprimanded, a teacher placed her hand over the child’s mouth.
- Feb. 14, Duvalle Education Center: A parent alleged that her preschool child “had her cot flipped over by an instructional assistant, which resulted in a scratch on the child’s lower back.” The assistant, according to a report from a colleague, also grabbed an uncooperative child by the upper arms/shoulders “and tossed him onto the child-sized couch in the classroom.”
- Feb. 23, McFerran Early Childhood Center: A parent reported that an instructional assistant took her child into the bathroom and smacked her hands.
- Feb. 28, Laukhuf Elementary School: A teacher grabbed a preschool child by the collar bone, causing the child to fall to the floor, screaming. Other classroom staff “would squeeze the finger area of children’s hands to get them to line up and follow directions.” A teacher also threw a bag of balls at a child, causing the child to fall.
- March 9, George Unseld: A parent alleged the child’s instructor yanked her child’s arm and firmly held his hand, causing an injury.
- March 9, Wheatley Elementary: A parent reported that her preschool child “was hit and dragged to his cot by his teacher.”
- April 20, Edwards Education Center: A coach reported that a staff member pulled a child by her arm, picked her up, placed her on her back on top of a cushion on the floor and threw a dress-up cape at her face.”
- May 1, Duvalle Education Center: A parent alleged that a staff member took her preschool child into the bathroom and slapped him across the face.
- May 18, Alex R. Kennedy Elementary: “A teacher lifted a preschool aged child’s cot vertically to wake him from his nap, causing the child to tumble on the floor.”
- May 18, George Unseld: A teacher “continuously spoke loudly and harshly in a preschool aged child’s face.”