A state report has found Hartford public schools failed to adequately respond to child abuse and neglect allegations of over many years.
The report was released after a nine month review ordered by Mayor Luke Bronin that included interviews with school officials and other individuals with knowledge of the district's procedures.
It also reviewed documentation by the Department of Children and Families.
It was ordered after former Hartford school administrator Eduardo Genao who allegedly sent sexual texts to a 13-year-old girl. Genao was arrested and charged with risk of injury to a minor. He has pleaded not guilty.
Connecticut Child Advocate Sarah Eagan said employees repeatedly accused of misconduct were often allowed to remain on the job for months or even years, among other issues
The review found a number of problems within the system, including: The school district did not review and update its mandated reporting policy as legally required. Mandated reporters were not adequately trained. Mandated reporters failed to report suspicions that school employees had neglected or abused students. DCF did not have a system to efficiently document, track and address mandated reporting that was mishandled School employees involved in misconduct were not effectively held accountable Children with disabilities are especially vulnerable to abuse and neglect."I am saddened...I am disappointed and I am angry," acting Superintendent Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez said in a press conference.
The report found that most of the cases involved kids who were most vulnerable.
"What we found is the majority of the reports found that the majority of the allegations concerned children with special needs," Eagan said.
“This report reveals a decade-long failure to protect children in our schools, and the Board of Education and District leaders must take immediate, aggressive steps to fix it. This is about kids’ safety and wellbeing, and I’m outraged at the level of dysfunction and lack of accountability that has apparently existed for many years," Mayor Bronin said in a statement on Friday.
Torres-Rodriguez said the report was an "urgent call" to make fundamental changes.
"If we know that people know and people have not acted, they will be held accountable," she said.
Torres-Rodriguez has prepared a draft action plan to present to the Board of Education, according to schools officials.
To read the full report by Office of Child Advocate on Hartford Public Schools, click here.
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