The overarching theme of the discussions was the issue of reporting - who tells who, what and when - in cases involving child abuse, harassment and civil rights violations.
NICEVILLE — The Okaloosa County School Board took a step towards instituting new and revised policies related to child abuse, harassment and civil rights violations.
The School Board voted at its meeting Monday night to schedule a public hearing on the proposed policies after first advertising them.
The policy changes were sparked by complaints against the School District for failing to notify parents and the School Board of district investigations into inappropriate behavior of teachers towards both students and staff.
Specifically, the cases of Marlynn Stillions, a special education teacher at Kenwood Elementary School arrested Sept. 13 on four counts of alleged felony child abuse; Roy Frazier, a Silver Sands teacher who had his teaching certificate revoked by the state in June for allegedly physically abusing students; and Stephen Hall, a district employee who, despite being investigated for multiple sexual harassment complaints, was transferred to other schools within the district at least twice.
In all three cases, the School Board said it was not made aware of the various allegations and investigations. In the case of Stillions, the father of the special needs child alleged to have suffered abuse, Eddie Perillo, said he was not notified of the school district investigation involving his child for nearly a year following its completion.
At the School Board workshop Thursday, the Board, Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson and school district attorney Jeff McInnis discussed ways to “put some teeth” into policies that were previously unclear or ineffective. The overarching theme of the discussions was the issue of reporting: Who tells who, what and when.
One proposed change will require the Superintendent to notify a parent of a child involved in an investigation resulting from a formal complaint, so long as the Department of Children and Families (DCF) was not involved.
A second potential policy overhaul deals with how the School Board itself is notified of investigations pertaining to district employees.
The move for board notifications comes after a Daily News report revealed Hall, a district employee who for years was accused of sexual harassment by school employees, was allowed to transfer between schools despite investigators confirming that he sexually harassed female employees.
In that case, the Board said they were not aware of the investigations when they voted to transfer Hall.
A third proposed policy include ensuring the mandatory reporting of all suspected student neglect or abuse to the Department of Children and Families Central Abuse Hotline. The proposal also includes reporting to the hotline if such information is discovered during a district investigation.
The dates of the public hearings will be scheduled at a later time. After the hearings, the School Board could either adopt, modify or scrap the proposed changes.