JCPS submits corrective action plan after reports of child abuse in Head Start program

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Child abuse claims outlined in a Head Start report shows at least 13 incidents within the JCPS program where children were hit and dragged and even tossed on a couch.

At least seven employees lost their jobs because of substantiated claims.  School board member Linda Duncan calling the cases 'shocking.'

"The last thing we expected to hear was that children were being abused or neglected in our Head Start program," she told WHAS11 News.

Those cases resulted in the district rewriting its standards of conduct policies.  Board members, including Duncan, approved a 35-page corrective action plan this week.  Top district leaders call it a step in the right direction.

"The plan is only as good as the outcomes we achieve," said Dr. Carmen Coleman, the district's Acting Chief Academic Officer.

Acting Superintendent Doctor Marty Pollio telling our Renee Murphy three weeks ago, the district takes the abuse claims seriously, hinting he would fire more emloyees if there are more confirmed cases. "Discipline that involves abuse or neglect of children is just not going to be tolerated in any way," he said.

The primary changes include explicitly prohibiting the use of corporal punishment, discipline involving physical or verbal abuse.  The district will also no longer tolerate using food as punishment or reward and will ban potty-training methods that humiliate a child. Duncan says proper training will take time, but supports the tougher standards.

"Especially at this point, everyone is sensitive to any violations and all of our staff is going to be cautious how they treat kids," he said.

One area Duncan says the district may be jumping the gun is immediately removing a staff member who self-reports an incident.  "I know right now people are second-guessing themselves on many things that they've done, worrying that they might be interpreted as more than what they were," Duncan said, referring to the severity of self-reported incidents.

 

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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