Sioux Falls School District Superintendent Pam Homan says the district’s child abuse and neglect policy is in line with the state’s mandatory reporting law, despite a delay reporting the alleged victim of Christopher Hartford this week.
Hartford is accused of repeatedly raping a six-year-old girl who lived with him at a Sioux Falls motel.
“I honestly don't believe any staff person would ever intentionally not report,” Dr. Homan said Thursday.
According to Homan, teachers and administrators are instructed to act on news of abuse and neglect immediately. The policy is reviewed annually with all staff.
“If they're not an administrator, they report it to their supervisor and the expectation is the person then directly immediately report,” Homan said.
According to court documents in the Hartford case, that only partially happened. The victim told another Lowell Elementary classmate about the abuse. Her friend told a teacher who informed administrators on January 17. Administrators did not contact social services until five days after the report.
Court papers say Hartford moved into a new home the weekend of January 19. The abuse continued there over the weekend according to investigators.
“If there's an alleged violation we fully investigate. And then following that, whatever actions, if appropriate, are taken,” Homan said.
Homan said the district learned about the gap between the initial report and the call to authorities on Thursday. She says the district is continuing to investigate.
“It is a complete non negotiable requirement. If there's a law we will follow it. And district policy is to be abided by at all times,” Homan said.