SUFFIELD, CT (WFSB) - Two people were arrested for not reporting separate cases of child abuse in Suffield.
School superintendent Karen Berasi, 68, and the parks and recreation supervisor, 58-year-old Cynthia Fisher, were arrested on separate warrants.
Both were were charged with "report of abuse or neglect by mandated reporter" for the different investigations.
They surrendered themselves to police on Thursday and were released on promises to appear in court.
One complaint Channel 3 first reported about was made over the summer and said several school administrators, including the superintendent, failed to report an act of suspected child abuse or neglect.
According to court documents, the incident happened back in May after a 17-year-old student told their parent a conversation with the school psychologist turned risqué, when the psychologist allegedly talked about an adult store and adult toys.
The student’s parent wrote to Berasi, who assured them the school would launch an investigation and “As a mandated reporter, the district will be calling the Department of Children and Families.”
Documents show that wasn’t done until after the parent followed up, telling Berasi that they would contact DCF directly.
The day after, documents show Berasi did indeed call DCF, even if it was well after the required 12-hour window to report.
In that conversation, she told DCF she was prompted to call because of the attention to the Montville fight club, where administrators there were arrested for failing to report.
Court documents show Berasi said “ordinarily, I would not report this and so before I report it, I want to tell you, I think this is a false claim.”
"It's not for us to determine if it happened or didn't happen, this person is not telling the truth. It's up for us to report that to the Department of Children and Families," said Captain Christopher McKee, Suffield Police Department.
Berasi then explained that she believed the student had a tendency to lie and that the student’s mother had credibility issues, while describing the psychologist as “a breath of fresh air” and “flawless.”
Police said the risqué conversation itself, even if true, was not criminal, but the act of failing to report to DCF the concerns was.
“They have a responsibility that if there’s an act of suspected abuse or neglect, it’s not for us to determine if it happened or didn’t happen, this person is not telling the truth, it’s up for us to report that to the Department of Children and Families,” said Suffield Police Capt. Christopher McKee.
Berasi, who is on paid leave, decided to resign in June 2019, meaning she’ll likely be collecting her six figure salary.
She was placed on paid leave in August.
In a letter to families, school official said "We wish to assure the community of Suffield that the safety and welfare of our students remains our foremost concern. We are focused on moving our district forward in the best interest of our students."
Parents can hold their educators accountable.
There are 37 different types of mandated reporters, which can all be found here.
The mandated reporters are required to report any instance of abuse or neglect.
Legal definitions of abuse can be found here.
While re-training is ongoing in Suffield, many parents are wondering if the re-training should be done state-wide.
"It's needed, because as a parent, we're worried about what's happening in school. So, if they report if, we'll know what's happening," said Nandhini Venkataraman.