Principal, Assistant Principal, Head Baseball Coach Arrested For 'Failure To Report Abuse'

by Valerie Williams
Originally Published: 
Drew Bloksberg/Getty

Three Texas school administrators were indicted for failing to report child abuse

A trio of Texas school administrators were indicted for failing to report the abuse of a student at the hands of other students and now, parents are outraged that the school seems to be siding with the employees before the police even have a chance to find out the truth.

According to The Victoria Advocate, the high school principal, assistant principal, and head baseball coach at Hallettsville High School are the administrators at the center of allegations of abuse of a child at the hands of other children. Charges of failing to report the abuse, which is the duty of educators by law, were brought against head baseball coach Calvin Cook, assistant principal and head basketball coach Scott Cottenoir and principal Darrin Bickham.

The Advocate also reports that parents have been concerned over the indictments for weeks, but one district parent points out that the school deleted the comments on their post about the arrests. Jessica Coleman preserved her own comment and shared it on her page. “220 comments and they’ve deleted every single one. Mine wont stay up long but oh well,” she writes alongside a screenshot of her comment where she questioned the district’s stance of siding with the administrators before an investigation has been completed.

In the school’s post, which has indeed had every comment either hidden or deleted, the school superintendent, Dr. Jo Ann Bludau, writes, “The District is aware of the arrest of several Hallettsville employees today. This is part of an ongoing investigation by the police in which the District has been cooperating. The District is aware of the nature of the charges and does not believe, based on what we now know, that there is any merit to them, or that the Hallettsville employees engaged in any wrongdoing. However, the district will continue to cooperate with both the police and the employees as they seek to work this matter out. The district wishes to stress that it does not believe that any Hallettsville students or employees are at all at risk as a result of the allegations against any of these employees.”

KENS 5 News reports that the admins failed to report an offense that took place in the first week of March in Medina County. Hondo and Hallettsville Police departments are currently investigating an allegation that a baseball player from the school was sexually abused by other students at an away baseball tournament in Hondo.

Rachael Harding, who has a student at the Hallettsville district, tells The Advocate that the allegations concern her because it’s up to the educators to report if they believe a child is in danger. “Teachers have a responsibility to report any abuse,” she says. “What are we telling our kids when the school district … believe(s) teachers didn’t do anything wrong? I don’t believe that they didn’t know about it.”

To make matters even worse, another district mom, Joslyn Williams, tells The Advocate that her children said they’ve seen all three indicted school employees working on the campus this past Wednesday. Williams herself says she saw one of them while dropping off her kids at school. The Hallettsville school district athletic director, Tommy Psencik, says Cook was expected to coach a baseball game this week. The high school’s team is ranked #2 in the state.

Texas Education Agency officials say it’s up to individual districts to decide whether indicted employees are allowed to work, providing the crimes they’re indicted for don’t include kidnapping, homicide, human trafficking, some assaults, and anything that could require registration as a sex offender.

Williams firmly feels they don’t belong on campus at this time.

“They need to take leave. They do not need to be around our children. We need to protect our children first,” Williams says. “It’s ludicrous that they are even there.”

The mom has also spent time writing letters and rallying fellow district parents over the incident. She’s concerned that the administrators may have covered up the abuse of a child — and that the child suffered alone because of it.

“I do worry about the safety of my child and every other child,” she says. “If they are not reporting that, what else are they not reporting?”

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