Author Topic: Principal Charged for Obstructing Abuse Investigation  (Read 516 times)

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Offline cmack

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Principal Charged for Obstructing Abuse Investigation
« on: December 04, 2011, 03:56:54 PM » ... abuse-case

School Principal Accused of Interfering in Student Abuse Case

An Appleton elementary school principal is accused of interfering with a child abuse investigation at his school.

Appleton police say Janet Berry Elementary School principal Richard Waters withheld information and altered a document in a child abuse investigation last February.

The 48-year-old faces a misdemeanor charge of obstructing an officer.

On Thursday the school district placed Waters on paid administrative leave.

The charge against Waters comes ten months after the initial investigation into former special education teacher Mary Berglund, who is accused of physically abusing six cognitively disabled students at Janet Berry Elementary.

According to the complaint, in January Waters received a phone call from another principal in the district who had received a complaint about Berglund's treatment of students.

Waters initially told investigators that the principal "did not give him any information about the nature of the concerns in even the broadest of terms, and in fact (the principal) refused to provide any details."

However, in the complaint, that principal says she did provide details, even sending him an email with specifics.

The complaint also alleges Waters doctored a letter written to him by a concerned paraprofessional. Authorities say when Waters turned over a copy of that letter, the date was on the opposite margin and the first sentence was removed.

Waters's attorney says the evidence doesn't add up to a criminal charge.

"There was no cover-up attempt regarding this what so ever by Mr. Waters," attorney Len Kachinsky said. "Anything that Mr. Waters did was not done to mislead the police in any way or deliberately provide them with false information."

It's news the alleged victims' families have been waiting for.

"They are thrilled. They have always wanted the school district to take administrative responsibility for what happened," Jeff Spitzer-Resnick, managing attorney for Disability Rights Wisconsin, said.

The attorney representing the alleged victims' families said he's pleased that Waters has been charged and he hopes there's further investigation into Waters's actions.

"We will not rest until we are able to establish that he either knew, or if he did not know, that he and the district accept responsibility for having a principal in a building that failed to know," Spitzer-Resnick said.

Waters is due in court on December 14th.

Berglund is expected to plead no contest to one felony count of physical abuse of a child and five misdemeanor battery counts. Her hearing is scheduled for December 21st.
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