In light of an investigation into inappropriate communications between a school custodian and a student, the Knob Noster School District released the following statement late Tuesday afternoon.
“On Tuesday, May 17, 2016, the Knob Noster School District received a report of inappropriate communications between a school employee and a student. After a prompt investigation, the employee was terminated the following day on Wednesday, May 18.
“The school district also reported the inappropriate communications to the Knob Noster Police Department, who is conducting its own investigation into the individual. The district will continue to cooperate with law enforcement and to provide support for students throughout this process. The district will not be releasing specific information concerning its own investigation at this time because it involves a student.
“The Knob Noster School District values the security and safety of all students, and continues to encourage students to report any incidents of inappropriate contact by an adult so it can take prompt and necessary action. It has board policies in place that specifically prohibit inappropriate communications or physical contact between its employees and students, including the failure to maintain professional physical and emotional boundaries. The district will continue to rigorously enforce its policies to protect its students.”
Superintendent Dr. Jerrod Wheeler spoke to the Democrat by phone Tuesday evening, explaining the district waited until Tuesday to release both the statement and a letter to parents to allow KNPD time to conduct an investigation.
“I am somewhat limited in what I can and cannot say because this involves both a student and school employee,” Wheeler told the Democrat. “The district is not aware of any charges that have been filed in the matter by the local authorities at this time.
“Our intent was to make the community aware of the matter, but we did not want to interfere in any manner with an official investigation,” he added.
The district sent the following letter Tuesday to the parents and students of the district.
“It is with regret that I send this letter to inform you that the Knob Noster School District was recently made aware of inappropriate communications which occurred between a former employee and a high school student.
“Following a swift internal investigation, the district terminated employment with that individual. The district immediately reported the incident to the Knob Noster Police department, and the district continues to work in full cooperation as the department works through its parallel investigation. Further details on that incident are included in a press rel;ease on the district’s website.
“Each year, all employees of Knob Noster Public Schools complete required training on recognizing, identifying and reporting all incidents of potential abuse or neglect. The safety and well-being of our students remains our first priority. While Knob Noster employees and other educators across the nation make many ongoing efforts to prevent these incidents from occurring, they do unfortunately still occur.
“As the KNSD team embraces this situation, I wanted to send this letter to not only make you aware of the incident, but to also extend our help, should you be aware of any child abuse or neglect. Our district has a network of resources and support which is available to you and your children. We are dedicated to not only providing assistance as needed, but we are committed to doing so in a manner which protects the privacy rights of our students.
“Should you have any needs whatsoever, please do not hesitate to contact me via email at [email protected] or by phone at 660-563-3186 and our team will respond to your needs.”
Although the press release, drafted by the district’s legal counsel, and the letter indicated who the employee was, t Democrat chose not to name the individual pending the filing of charges.
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484