Despite findings by the Brentwood Police Department that no criminal misconduct occurred between Loma Vista Elementary School special-education teacher Kristie Schrick and one of her autistic preschool students, acting superintendent Doug Adams today placed both Schrick and Loma Vista Principal Lauri James on paid administrative leave until an internal, independent investigation is complete.
“I’m pleased that the police found there to be no crime,” said Adams. “But I’m still going to proceed with an independent study because there is one standard with the police and one standard as it pertains to personnel issues … I’m concerned, among other things, about protocol and how procedures were followed.”
The May 6 incident occurred on the same campus and under the same principal that only three months ago led to the highly publicized and emotional firing of Superintendent Merrill Grant over his handling of a special-needs child abuse case.
According to Lt. Doug Silva of the Brentwood Police Department, an investigation into the May 6 allegations – made by a parent at the school who witnessed the event and reported it to James – found the charges to be unfounded.
“The student was throwing tanbark at the teacher and she used a technique, which is approved by the school and of which the parent is aware, to restrain the student,” said Silva. “Apparently the student was trying to bite the teacher, and she put the student in time-out. When it was over, they went down the slide together. It was all fine. It’s a non-issue.”
Silva added that he was told the parent of the student even wrote a note to Schrick thanking her for her handling of the situation.
But it is the time lapse of nearly a week and a half from the reported incident and the time when district administrators were informed – along with the non-reporting of the incident to police as mandated by law – that also worries Adams.
“Earlier this year the district underwent a wrenching public reproach for how they handled reports of abuse … We learned painful lessons from this process, the first being that when student safety is at issue, we must err on the side of thoroughness and caution. In all matters, the safety and well being of our students come first.”
For the time being, a substitute teacher – one who is familiar to students, said Adams – will take over for Schrick while another teacher on special assignment at Loma Vista will assume James’ duties.