A Hummel Report Investigation
A Warwick couple who say their 4th-grade daughter was the object of sexually explicit remarks and inappropriate touching by a male classmates with special needs at her elementary school is speaking out about how the School Department has handled their situation - wanting to know why officials are not doing more to protect their daughter and other children. With state law protecting student confidentiality, the answers for them - and for us - have been hard to come by.
For half a century Norwood Elementary has been a fixture for families in the northern end of Warwick. And it’s where Jessica Moone has spent countless hours volunteering while her two
Jessica: I was the vice president of the PTA. Room parent every year for eight year. I spent hundreds of hours a year.’’
All of that changed for Guy and Jessica Moone two and a half months ago when their younger daughter came home from her 4th-grade class with something to tell her parents.
Jessica: ``On March 31st he grabbed our daughter.’’
Guy: ``And her friend.’’
Jessica: ``And her friend.’’
Hummel: ``Grabbed her where?’’
Jessica: ``In her behind, but it went kind of underneath. He touched more than just her behind.’’
The Moones say a boy with special needs also made sexually explicit comments to their daughter. And it wasn’t the first time. Jessica recalled a conversation she had two years ago.
Jessica: ``In second grade, the second-grade teacher at the end of the day asked me if she could speak to me, because the lunch aid had heard that particular student saying to my daughter: `Do you know what a penis is? Would you like to see my penis?’”
Hummel: ``In 2nd grade?’’
Jessica: ``In 2nd grade, and sang a song about it to my daughter.’’
Jessica Moone says the boy and her daughter were in different classes last year without incident, but problems began again this past academic year. She says she heard about the latest incident from their daughter, and immediately contacted the principal, John Gannon.’’
Jessica: ``The only information he would be able to give me over the phone was that she was touched. He wouldn’t be able to say where, he wouldn’t be able to say by who. He wouldn’t be able to say anything except she was touched, at recess and I have a report of it.’’
State law protects the confidentiality of students, and also requires the public school system to educate all students regardless of their special needs. And that means there were many answers we could not get from the School Department about the Moones’ situation.
We do know that after the March 31st incident, Principal Gannon drafted a detailed safety plan to keep the two students apart after a meeting at the school the next day that included Lynn Dambruch, the director of elementary education for the department
Guy: ``Miss Dambruch had assured us there’ll be severe consequences to this and she went on about there would be punishments and we talked about the other children that were involved, that had been involved months prior.’’
Hummel: ``And they acknowledged…did they acknowledge?’’
Jessica: ``Mr. Gannon acknowledged, Miss Dambruch looked at him….’’
Guy: ``…and said: `Are there others?’”