Panel to investigate actions in Price case Board and PTA asked for probe

June 17, 1993|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Staff Writer

State School Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick will name a three-person panel today to investigate the Anne Arundel County school system's handling of a 1989 probe into allegations that Northeast High School teacher Ronald W. Price was having a sexual relationship with a student.

Mr. Price, 49, of Brooklyn Park, was charged in April with child sexual abuse for having sex with three young women while they were students at the Pasadena school. He is on home detention pending trial.

The social studies teacher and softball coach admits to having slept with as many as seven students over his 25-year teaching career. His lawyers have said he has an illness and is not criminally responsible for his actions.

Administrators at Northeast knew four years ago of at least 10 young women rumored to have been sexually involved with Mr. Price. The 10 names were in notes taken in January 1989 by then-assistant principal Mary Gable, who was investigating claims that a student had had a sexual relationship with Mr. Price while she was in high school.

A police investigation was discontinued after the young woman refused to cooperate with police; Mr. Price has said he persuaded the girl not to speak with law enforcement officials.

Police say they were never given Ms. Gable's notes. School board attorney P. Tyson Bennett, however, says Ms. Gable, who is now principal at Old Mill Senior High School, maintains she gave copies to the police.

In May, Carolyn Roeding, president of the Anne Arundel County Council of PTAs, asked Dr. Grasmick to conduct a probe into how those allegations were handled.

Last week, County School Superintendent C. Berry Carter II agreed to ask school board members to request the probe -- and last night the board did so.

School board chairman Vincent O. Leggett said the board voted unanimously in closed session to ask Dr. Grasmick to review the policies, practices and procedures of the school system regarding sexual improprieties.

The board asked that the probe include all county schools, said Mr. Leggett, who did not refer specifically to the 1989 allegations against Mr. Price.

Last night, the Council of PTAs recommended that the school system change its policy on the handling of allegations of sexual child abuse and neglect involving school system employees. The council called for the establishment of an investigative team of representatives from the state's attorney's office, Police Department, county Department of Social Services and the schools.

Mrs. Roeding said this approach is similar to the procedures in Howard County. The PTA council, which decided to review the school system's policies in May, sought the advice of People Against Child Abuse and the group recommended Howard's approach, she said.

"It's the first step in restoring the faith and trust in the school system," Mrs. Roeding said of the investigation.

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