Friday, June 25, 2021

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Parent: Complaint to State Led to KHS Leaves of Absences

By Gordon Joseloff

UPDATE The placement on leave of the Kings Highway Elementary School (KHS) principal and four others resulted from a complaint filed with the state about restraining of a 6-year-old special needs student, according to a parent familiar with the matter.

Principal Mary Lou DiBella and four others at KHS were placed on paid professional leave without prejudice and would be absent for “at least the next few days” while the district reviews unspecified allegations, Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer told parents in emails on Jan. 28.

On Saturday, Palmer denounced “numerous erroneous rumors” about the action and said “It would be inappropriate to make any assumptions about any individuals at this time, and I ask for your patience as we work to resolve the issues at hand.”

According to the parent, who asked for anonymity, the KHS leaves followed a complaint about restraining the 6-year-old multiple times that was filed with the state Department of Children and Families (DCF).

The state unit is conducting an investigation of the complaint, which alleges that proper procedures were not followed, the parent said.

The parent said following the incidents, the Board of Education adopted revised guidelines about the use of restraints that addressed training and documentation, and made mandatory parental notification within 24 hours. 

In response to the parental complaints, KHS officials maintained that at all times they had complied with the state law and regulations about reporting physical restraints, the parent said.

The DCF has 45 days to respond to the filed complaint, according to the parent.

Asked to comment on this story, Palmer said in an email: “Due to FERPA [Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act] regulations which protect student privacy and the fact that this matter involves an ongoing review, it would be inappropriate for me to comment.”

This story has been updated with a non-comment from Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer.

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