Colorado middle school principal, 2 others charged with failing to report suspected child abuse

Three staff members at Elizabeth Middle School, including the principal, are facing criminal charges for failing to report suspected child abuse after allegations against a teacher were not reported to law enforcement earlier this year. Principal Brett Michel, Assistant Principal Jeff Sparrow, and school counselor Shannon Paxton were placed on administrative leave while the Elizabeth School District conducted an investigation. The district has announced that their employment is being terminated pending approval by the Board of Education.

Superintendent Dan Snowberger stated, “We have high expectations that our staff will follow legal expectations and board policies in keeping our students safe and investigating any and all reports of concerning behavior.”

The teacher allegedly involved in the suspected child abuse remains on administrative leave during the criminal investigation, and the specific allegations against the teacher have not been publicly disclosed. The investigation was prompted by a complaint filed with law enforcement about a middle school teacher, and once notified, Snowberger placed the teacher on leave.

The district has found that there were concerns involving staff adherence to district policies and laws regarding the reporting requirement when receiving allegations involving a child. The staff members each face one count of failure to report suspected child abuse and could face a fine and/or imprisonment if found guilty.

Colorado is a mandatory reporting state, and superintendents are required to notify the Colorado Department of Education when an incident of child abuse or neglect has occurred and a district employee is suspected. School districts are also required to file a report with the Department of Education if an employee is fired or resigns due to accusations of unlawful behavior involving a child.

The historic background of this topic could include the history of mandatory reporting laws in Colorado and the importance of promptly reporting suspicions of child abuse to prevent further harm to the children involved.

In conclusion, the district has taken action against the staff members involved, and the investigation into the alleged child abuse remains ongoing.

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