Suffield police have launched an investigation into allegations that school administrators and members of senior leadership of the Suffield Public School District, including the superintendent, failed to report suspected child abuse or neglect to the state Department of Children and Families.
Connecticut law requires that mandated reporters report suspected child abuse or neglect. School employees are considered mandated reporters and failing to report suspected abuse can result in criminal charges.
In a notification to the community, the Suffield Board of Education said they were aware of the investigation, which centers on one incident, and that the board and administrators are cooperating.
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Law enforcement sources said the incident in question happened at the high school. A source said the incident in question involves a conversation between a student and school staff member about pornography.
“Should we find after an investigation that any employee has failed to adhere to his or her obligations as a mandated reporter, we will take all appropriate action to hold the responsible employees accountable and to keep our students safe. We wish to assure all Suffield residents that the safety of our children is our foremost concern, and that we will continue to monitor the situation as the investigation unfolds,” the statement from the board read.
A petition from parents declaring no confidence in Superintendent Karen Berasi has been circulating. The petition cites a range of issues, from the investigation to concerns about transparency, decreasing enrollment and lower SBAC scores. The petition requests that Berasi’s contract be terminated.
Berasi released a statement that read, in part:
"I’m absolutely confident that when this investigation is completed it will verify that there was no wrongdoing of any sort. In fact, I think it will verify that the Suffield Public Schools takes the safety and wellbeing of all students very seriously."
Police said Wednesday that they started investigating as soon as they received information about the allegation and the Suffield Board of Education and the Suffield Public School District are cooperating fully with police leadership and investigators.
“The safety and security of our children is paramount to both the Suffield Police Department and the Town of Suffield. This comprehensive investigation is ongoing and the findings of this process will determine the actions and outcome to be undertaken by this department,” a news release from police says.