Report on superintendent's handling of child abuse allegations kept secret

October 23, 1993|By Carol L. Bowers and Andrea F. Siegel | Carol L. Bowers and Andrea F. Siegel,Staff Writers

The Anne Arundel County Board of Education refused yesterday to release the results of an investigation into how Superintendent C. Berry Carter II handled child abuse allegations, saying he has a right to respond first.

"This is a personnel matter, and despite its high profile it will be handled appropriately," said Thomas Twombly, president of the eight-member school board. "And that means that it will not be discussed or shared publicly until Mr. Carter has been granted an opportunity to respond and the board has made a decision on his employment status."

A meeting between the school board and Mr. Carter has been tentatively set for next week, and the board could make a decision after that meeting.

The report was compiled by Washington attorney Alan I. Baron, who was paid $106,000 by the board to investigate how child sexual abuse charges against teachers were handled. The report on Mr. Carter is only part of Mr. Baron's findings, which must be given to the board by Nov. 30.

Mr. Twombly's statement came in response to a letter sent Thursday by Carolyn Roeding, president of the County Council of PTAs, that called for the immediate release of the report on Mr. Carter, who has been on paid administrative leave since July 31.

Mr. Carter was placed on leave after an earlier state investigation that said he knew of child abuse allegations against Ronald Walter Price in 1989, but failed to act. Price, a Northeast High School teacher until his arrest this spring, was sentenced this month to 26 years in prison for having sex with three students.

Board members also criticized Mrs. Roeding, charging that her comments have been motivated more by her candidacy for a District 31 seat in the House of Delegates than by concern for children.

"Why are they overreacting to this request?" said Mrs. Roeding, noting that in sending the letter she was following an action plan set by her PTA council executive board this spring.

"Why should the PTA do less now than when we thought the state would not release its investigation? I wrote a letter to [Nancy S. Grasmick, the state superintendent of schools] then. Why did they say nothing when I called for an investigation of the Department of Social Services?"

Mrs. Roeding pointed out that the school board approved Mr. Baron's hiring of Eleanor Carey, a candidate in the Democratic primary for attorney general.

The report on Mr. Carter, part of a larger investigation into how the school system handled child abuse cases, has been finished for about three weeks, but the findings have been kept secret.

"The board is operating under a state mandate which does not require sharing of the report's findings until Nov. 30," said Mr. Twombly.

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