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New Charges in IPS Child Seduction Case

Steve Wagner

Last month, we shared with you the disturbing details of Shana Taylor, an Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) counselor who has been charged with having sex with two students. Equally problematic were the multiple school administrators who failed to report the suspected child abuse in a timely manner in accordance with state law and district policy. It appears now that the behavior of the administrators may have been even worse than initially suspected.

While initial reports certainly indicated a delay in response and reporting by the school and district officials, it seemed more likely to have been a problem with channels of communication or at worst, a simple failure to do their work in a timely manner. Though the IPS officials continue to try and paint the problem as largely a failure to communicate and follow-up, two IPS Human Resources staff members now stand charged with misdemeanors for failure to report. Additional allegations point to a possible attempt to cover the scenario up and handle it internally.

Handling Child Sexual Abuse From an HR Perspective?

After the mother of one of the victims brought photographic evidence of the alleged sexual misconduct to Assistant Principal, William Jensen, on February 17, several other administrators were contacted about the issue. Mr. Jensen contacted Principal Mark Cosand and Director of Students Services, Deb Leser. Ms. Leser suggested Jensen contact Human Resources Director Lela “Tina” Hester, which he did. At that point, Mr. Jensen forwarded the messages and photos to Ms. Hester, who in turn sent the evidence to Shalon Dabney, an HR case worker.

On February 18, Lela Hester emailed IPS Chief Strategist, Le Boler, writing “I asked that the school police stay out of it so that she is not charged and we can handle from an HR perspective, but I don’t know if the mom plans to file charges.” Boler maintains she did not report the possible abuse because she believed it had already been reported. Hester and Dabney are the IPS employees facing misdemeanor charges.

The district maintains there was no bad intent or attempt to cover the situation up. Superintendent Lewis Ferebee says “the primary focus was on ensuring that the employee that was…doing inappropriate things…was removed.” Others cite the difficulty of reporting during a short turnaround period or receiving information at the end of a workday or during the evening hours as contributors to the length of time between the allegations and the report to DCS.

Do You Believe You Have a Case Against Your Child’s School?

Wagner Reese has investigated and handled many cases against schools on behalf of students, employees and parents. If you believe that your child’s injuries are a result of a school’s wrongful actions, please contact our office and ask to speak with an attorney about your potential case.

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