Two Texas principals in the same school district stand accused of failing to report alleged sexual assaults of very young male students on their respective campuses. Purportedly, the boys performed lewd acts on each other.
Cindy Sue Underwood, principal of Haynes Northwest Academy, and Kory Fancher Dorman, principal of Crockett Elementary, remain on administrative leave while the Wichita Falls Independent School District investigates claims they failed to notify the appropriate authorities about the improper conduct.
On Monday, police took Underwood, 35, into custody. The arrest warrant, obtained by KAUZ, stated that Child Protective Services (CPS) notified the Wichita Falls Police Department on November 6 about a possible case of aggravated sexual assault at Haynes Northwest Academy. CPS investigators said a district-owned iPad contained images of three, six-year-old boys engaging in sexual acts with one another in a classroom.
Previously, on October 25, a homeroom teacher discovered the explicit photos on the tablet. She notified Underwood. According to the Times Record News, Underwood observed the images and identified the boys to police. The photographs were timestamped October 3, 2017. The principal told police the iPad was assigned to one of the involved students; she believed the boys photographed one another on a classroom rug. Underwood told detectives she decided to contact the students’ parents but did not file a CPS report.
However, the Texas Family Code requires an administrator report suspected abuse or neglect to law enforcement and the Department of Public Safety within 48 hours. A CPS detective later said, based on his training and experience, six-year-olds should not have knowledge of the sexual acts depicted in the photographs unless they had seen or experienced it, making them possible victims of sexual abuse.
One of the student’s parents filed a report with CPS on October 31, triggering the investigation.
The other principal, Dorman, 45, was arrested days earlier on January 31. The Times Record News reported her affidavit stated that three grandparents of a first grade male student at Crockett Elementary contacted Dorman on December 15. They alleged their seven-year-old grandson was sexually assaulted by a six-year-old schoolmate while in the bathroom on an unknown date.
The grandparents told Wichita Falls police the boy received oral sex from the other child. “He touched my pee-pee, and then he kissed it, actually put it in his mouth,” the grandparents claimed their grandson said. They believed another first grade student may also have been involved.
The Wichita Falls newspaper noted that December 15, a Friday, was a half-day before the district went on winter break. Faculty did not return to school until January 2. A few weeks later, on January 25, Dorman confirmed to police she spoke to the grandparents on December 15 about the alleged sexual encounter. Dorman also told officers the six-year-old boy asked the grandson to touch him, too.
According to Texas Family Code, Dorman did not follow procedure. She asked the school counselor to investigate the allegations. The code prohibits delegating this task to another school employee. She, too, was charged with Failure to Report, which is a class A misdemeanor. If found guilty, it can carry a sentence of up to one year in jail plus a $4,000 fine.
Recently, the principals were released from the Wichita County Jail each on $1,000 bail.
This week, Wichita Falls ISD Superintendent Michael Kuhrt released a statement defending the principals’ integrity. “I won’t comment on whether or not the right judgment call was made, I do know the character of both administrators in question, and I am confident that neither of these administrators would deliberately hurt a child.”
He stated that district staff and administrators “entered into the education field because of their love for children and their desire to do what’s right by them” and “dedicated their lives to the profession” working “tirelessly to ensure students are taken care of, not only at school, but at home as well.”
Kuhrt added: “While it would be ideal to have a clear-cut guide that would determine whether any given situation constitutes abuse or neglect, there are many factors that determine whether a situation warrants an investigation.”
He said: “Every day our staff is asked to make judgment calls based on the information they received, and each school year there are numerous CPS reports made by teachers and administrators in the name of student safety and security.”
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