Police pursue abuse allegation linked to elementary school trip

May 23, 2007|By Dan Lamothe and Ruma Kumar | Dan Lamothe and Ruma Kumar,sun reporters

Anne Arundel County police are investigating allegations of child abuse during an overnight camping trip, possibly following a parent's search for ticks on at least one third-grader's body.

The principal of Shipley's Choice Elementary School in Millersville, Linda M. Ferrara, has been transferred to the Board of Education's central office during the probe, Bob Mosier, a school system spokesman, said yesterday.

He said she was not on the April 26-27 trip to Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center in Millersville; he confirmed only that her May 14 removal was part of the "overall investigation."

Mosier would not say whether the three teachers who chaperoned had been pulled from their classrooms. Nor would he discuss any details of the visit.

Cpl. Mark Shawkey, a county police spokesman, said police received a complaint May 3 about the trip. He declined to elaborate, except to say it involved child abuse.

Steve Barry, Arlington Echo director, said he has been told the incident involved a search by a parent for ticks, a carrier of Lyme disease, on at least one student. He also would not elaborate, but said the center has since spelled out a policy telling students who find a tick on their bodies "in an area covered by a bathing suit" to tell their teachers about it.

Barry said the trip involved about 80 students in three third-grade classes at Shipley's Choice. About 30 adults, including the teachers, came along, he said.

It was the first overnighter to the center for the students, Barry said. The trip included exercises in boating, writing and learning about waterfront habitat. Parents served as chaperones or as instructors, he said.

Missy Bachkosky, president of the Shipley's Choice PTA, said parents received a letter last week telling them that an acting principal, Lou Kamm, had been appointed at the school. The letter did not explain why the change was made, though.

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