Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Ferebee Hire From North Carolina Blocked Police Investigation Of Sex Abuse Allegations

The daily newspaper and local TV stations have been reporting extensively on the decision of Marion Co. Prosecutor Terry Curry to charge two of the seven IPS employees who we now know failed to report to the Department of Child Services or law enforcement information they learned from a student's parent about a school counselor, Shana Taylor, having sex with students. WRTV's Kara Kenney asked Curry why his office only charged the school district's HR director, Lela Hester, and an HR case manager, Shalon Dabney. Here was Curry's response:
"As we looked at the totality of the evidence that was gathered, and listening to the statements of the individuals, we felt it was not appropriate to charge anyone beyond these two. The assistant principal first received the information and then was immediately sick. He then called the principal, who was out on medical leave at the time," said Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry.
Hester's actions, in particular, are quite disturbing. She communicated in an e-mail to one of Dr. Ferebee's top advisers her plan not to report Taylor's actions to school's police department according to the Indianapolis Star. "I asked that the school police stay out of it so that she is not charged and we can handle from an HR perspective," Hester wrote in her email, "but I don't know if the mom plans to file charges." "We will keep you informed," Hester said in the email. "I received this news at the end of my day yesterday at 5:45 p.m., but the prior events of the day were quite 'full moon-like' as well." The Star added, "Chief Strategist Le Boler, the official who received the email from Hester, said Wednesday she could not speak to the timing of the DCS report, but she noted that things had been moving "so quickly and it was a tight turnaround."

People who've followed Dr. Ferebee's arrival from the Durham Public Schools in North Carolina know there was concerned expressed that he was hiring a bunch of his cronies from North Carolina when he was hired as the district's new superintendent. The late Amos Brown complained about this in his Indianapolis Recorder columns and on his radio talk show on WTLC-AM. Why is this important? Well, Boler and Hester were two of those colleagues from North Carolina that Dr. Ferebee brought aboard with him at IPS. They are his inner circle of closest, trusted advisers. That's why they are working with him in Indianapolis.

People familiar with their working relationship believe Hester communicating her intentions in writing to Boler, whose title is "Chief Strategist" for the school district, was as good as communicating that intention not to involve law enforcement in the investigation to Dr. Ferebee himself. Boler's annual salary started at $136,000, while Hester's starting annual salary was $145,000 a year. Hester provided consulting work for IPS briefly before the board approved the hiring of her and Boler.

The Star says the assistant principal at Longfellow Alternative School, William Jensen, was the first to learn of the parent's allegations against Taylor on February 17. He immediately notified the school's principal, Mark Cosand, who out on medical leave recovering from a stroke. Cosand told Jensen to notify Deb Leser, director of student services. Leser instructed Cosand to notify Hester. Jensen forwarded the information he received from the parent, including explicit messages and photos, to Hester. The following day, Dabney met with Taylor and placed her on administrative leave. That's also the same day that Hester notified Boler that she did not plan to involve police in the investigation.

Boler deflected criticism on her part when questioned about her role by The Star, saying she was not in the operational chain of command for Hester. "Boler told IndyStar that she thanked Hester for the update." "Boler said she did not question Hester's decision because it was not in her 'operational chain of command.' Hester does not report to her."  Boler added, "It would be very inappropriate of me to wade in on those matters." "This is an unfortunate situation, but I definitely do not get out of the scope my work." Boler told The Star that she did not report the incident to authorities herself because she believed someone else had already done it.

According to The Star, Dabney waited until February 22 to ask Cosand, who had briefly come into the school from his medical leave to help deal with the situation, to file a report with DCS. She realized when she was preparing Taylor's termination papers that nobody had bothered to report the matter to DCS. Cosand told investigators he had already returned home when he got the message from Dabney and had none of the pertinent details with him at home to go about preparing and filing a report. Cosand then prepared and filed a report with DCS the following day. The investigation determined that Dabney had obtained enough facts to report the matter to DCS as early as February 18. Naturally, The Star doesn't ask any tough questions about Dr. Ferebee's role in the sordid affair. Perhaps it's no coincidence the delay in reporting the incident to DCS made it possible for Dr. Ferebee to receive board approval for his huge pay raise before the Shana Taylor matter became public.


Anonymous said...

I am one of the posters here with school board experience. One of those was that Board Members were ALWAYS alerted ASAP when any development occurred that could reflect badly on the Schools such that a Board Member might be contacted by a news organization and be up to speed instead of a dope. I'm betting that IPS has a similar system that, while it does not prevent dopes from serving, it might preserve their innocence in not knowing stuff. Thus, the matter is very incomplete without discerning for the public just when Board Members acting as Trustees found out about these matters and then what did they do or fail to do.
I don't particularly care about the prosecutor's feelings.

Anonymous said...

So Ferebee threw Hester and Dabney under the bus. Who is surprised?

Anonymous said...

Excellent reporting as always Gary!

Anonymous said...

The BIG QUESTION is what disciplinary action is the district taking? -Are they putting their heads in the sand?

Anonymous said...

This Ferebee is a real piece of work who sure seems to care more about his own ass than the safety of the school children. An empty suit, totally unfit to his position.

It just can't be long before someone rightly and righteously throws Ferebee's sorry fanny under a trailer and exposes the phony for what he really is.

leon dixon said...

We have an elected school board TAINTED by their failures in this matter. Firing their boy would seem to be one good option for them while mass resignations for their own incompetence and coverup might the the other. It may come to be a surprise for folks never having been in the belly of the school board beast to learn that the Himalaya Mountains were actually formed by school board coverups. A good percentage of their time is spent in covering up matters the public may have interest in but which reflect poorly on them. The public should know ALL of the warts but if the public knew stuff then the public would be like the Indianapolis Star sorts, gullible tools. The school board prefers gullible tools voting for candidates whose votes affect their budgets and incompetences.

Anonymous said...

Leon Dixon: You actually referred to Dr. Ferebee as "boy"? What is the matter with you? It's not funny. It's not cute. It's kind of like Amanda's blacklist, which is to say infantile and embarrassing to most adults.

Unknown said...

One has to wonder how many other incidents have not been reported..... to put that decision in an email certainly indicates the comfort in which that decision was made and carried out!! Alarming.