School official promises 'timely' child abuse investigation Parents say principal didn't report complaint against teacher

July 05, 1992|By Deidre Nerreau McCabe | Deidre Nerreau McCabe,Staff Writer

A high-ranking school administrator said his office would investigate allegations that charges of child abuse were not reported promptly by a school principal, as soon as a written complaint is received.

Huntley Cross, a special assistant to School Superintendent C. Berry Carter, said the school system investigates "in a timely fashion" any complaints from parents regarding school employees.

However, Mr. Cross said he could not comment on allegations against specific employees because such complaints are considered personnel matters and confidential.

Thursday afternoon, Mr. Cross said he had yet to receive a written complaint regarding Principal Henry Shubert of Millersville Elementary School. Parents allege Mr. Shubert did not report complaints of child abuse by a fourth-grade teacher.

On Wednesday, Millersville PTA President William Segraves sent complaint to school board member Maureen Carr-York, who represents the area, alleging Mr. Shubert did not respond in a timely manner to complaints of abuse.

Mr. Segraves requested a full investigation into the matter, saying state law and the Board of Education's Administrative Regulations require professional staff members to immediately report suspected abuse or neglect to the county's Department of Social Services.

Formal complaints by parents against teacher Margaret M. Snyder date back to March and possibly earlier, said Mr. Segraves. However, county police were not notified of the allegations until June 9, after a meeting was called by parents to voice their concerns to school officials.

"It seems clear that the Millersville principal failed to comply with law and board procedure," Mr. Segraves wrote in his two-page complaint. "It is possible that others at higher levels of authority may have failed to comply with board procedure," he added.

Mr. Segraves said the investigation should determine which administrators knew of the alleged abuse and when, so that appropriate action can be taken against those who failed to report it.

Ms. Snyder, of the 11000 block of Neptune Place in Annapolis, was charged by police Monday with three counts of assault and battery in connection with incidents involving fourth-graders in her class. Charging documents state she "physically grabbed three students on three separate occasions," scratching the students or causing nail marks on their arms, chests or stomachs.

Both Mr. Shubert and Ms. Snyder declined to comment on the charges.

A group of Crownsville parents whose children were in Ms. Snyder's class during the 1991-1992 school year have organized a petition to keep the teacher out of the classroom. Parents signed the petitions to request that their children not be given Ms. Snyder as a teacher in the future.

Several parents, who indicated Ms. Snyder has a long history of abusive behavior toward students, said they would not object to her being transferred to an administrative post in the school or elsewhere.

"She just shouldn't be around kids," said Kathleen Draego, one of the organizers of the petition drive.

At a Board of Education meeting Wednesday, staff members announced that Mr. Shubert would be transferred to Brock Bridge Elementary in Laurel as principal. The board did not indicate whether the move was related to problems at Millersville.

Dianne Osborn, the Millersville PTA's director of publicity, said many parents are happy the school will be getting a new principal for the 1992-1993 school year.

"We're very happy about it," she said. "Mr. Shubert has done nothing to help us with these problems."

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