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Park City School District charged with not reporting child abuse

Posted at 2:08 PM, Mar 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-21 23:30:26-04

PARK CITY, Utah — The Summit County Attorney's Office on Monday filed criminal charges against the Park City School District for failure to report child abuse.

According to court documents obtained by FOX 13 News, the three misdemeanor charges arise from an ongoing investigation by the Park City Police Department, Summit County Sheriff's Office, and the county attorney's office.

“From all available information, this was a systemic and institutional failure,” said Summit County Attorney Margaret Olson.

During an Oct. 2019 meeting with the parent of a student, the school district allegedly was first alerted to the child possibly being abused. After the meeting, no report was made to law enforcement or Child Protective Services.

Last November, a medical professional treating the child in connection to the 2019 incident reported the allegation to law enforcement, who "immediately visited the school to check on the child," the report said.

Individuals are required by state law to report allegations of child abuse to appropriate authorities, such as the police or child and family services. According to the county attorney's office, the school system is being charged as a party.

When asked about the 2019 incident, the Park City School District superintendent allegedly told the Division of Child and Family Services that the case had been resolved, but did not know if it had ever been reported. Evidence obtained by a subpoena showed that the district had not investigated the abuse allegations.

“We expect more, not less, out of professionals who are aware or should be aware of their duty,” said Olson.

The Summit County Attorney’s Office said investigators discovered two more cases of failure to report.

According to court documents, the district learned in December 2021 about a claim that a female student was raped by another student. A district employee allegedly interviewed both students involved and held a mediation between the parents and students, but “no report was made in December 2021 to law enforcement or Child Protective Services.”

Prosecutors detail another reported rape in early March where the victim’s parent learned about it from a district employee, but it “did not come to the attention of law enforcement and Child Protective Services until they were unearthed in the course and scope of an entirely separate law enforcement investigation in March, 2022.”

“I was very troubled to hear that the school district, knowing there was a pending investigation, still failed to report a case last week,” said Olson.

If you reported an allegation of child abuse or neglect to the Park City School District, the Summit County Attorney’s Office said there’s a chance that report was never sent to proper authorities. You’re encouraged to call Utah Child Protective Services’ 24/7 hour hotline at (855)-323-3237 or Summit County Dispatch at (435)-615-3600.

“If we’re not addressing reports of child maltreatment in that manner we are falling down on the job,” said Olson.

The Park City School District Board of Education sent FOX 13 News a statement, saying:

“The board was informed this morning that the Summit County Attorney’s office has filed charges against the Park City School District. The district is looking into the charges and will respond in due course through legal counsel.

"We take these allegations seriously and as always prioritize the safety of our students so that they can reach their academic and social potential.

"We ask that the public is respectful of the district administration and allows this process to play out before assuming any negligence or bad intent.

"The board fully supports the Superintendent, her administration and all our staff as they continue to provide a safe learning environment for all our students.”