Process Clarity for Staff Allegations in our Schools

Posted on: March 23, 2023

SPS community members,

In the Salem Public Schools, the safety and well-being of our students is of utmost importance.  To this end, we approach any allegation received with a high level of seriousness, and we want to be sure that community members are aware of how these matters are handled when they arise.  

Allegations regarding inappropriate behavior by any staff member should be reported to a trusted adult in the building, who is then required to report the matter to a supervisor.

Once an allegation is received, the district, in almost all cases, will place the staff member on leave out of an abundance of caution and so as not to compromise the integrity of the ensuing investigation. 

 

If the matter involves any concern or allegation that may include possible abuse or neglect of a student, the district will file a report with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) within 24 hours of receiving the complaint, as required by the mandated reporting laws, and if necessary, also consult with the Salem Police.   

DCF will conduct its own independent investigation to determine whether they will screen in or screen out the report. If the report is screened in, DCF will conduct a more comprehensive investigation and, if necessary, refer to the District Attorney’s office for further investigation.  

Concurrently, the Salem Public Schools will conduct its own investigation, which may include speaking to students and staff involved.  Families of students involved in these investigations will be notified if their children have been directly impacted or spoken to about an allegation.   At this stage of the process, the district cannot presume innocence or guilt and for this reason, the District is prohibited from sharing confidential personnel information publicly with the entire school community.    

Once the district’s internal investigation is complete and DCF and the Salem Police (if warranted) have thoroughly reviewed the case, a determination is made about how to proceed with the employee.  Depending on the findings, the individual may 

  1. return fully cleared;

  2. return to work after receiving internal discipline;

  3. be terminated from employment; 

  4. or, be criminally charged.  

In the event that criminal charges are brought against the staff member, the district will communicate with the school and/or district community.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any further questions.  We appreciate your continued partnership as we ensure that our students and staff receive the support they need to thrive in our schools. 

Sincerely, 

Stephen Zrike

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