Austin ISD superintendent addresses recent sex assault allegations

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Before heading into an event honoring teachers and dedicated staff members, the Austin Independent School District superintendent addressed the media Tuesday evening about the allegations at Boone Elementary School and what is being done when it comes to student safety.

Superintendent Dr. Paul Cruz announced details for a new required employee training, as part of the district’s student safety initiative.

“Student safety is a top priority. We know and we are committed to making sure we have a safe learning environment for all of our students,” said Dr. Cruz. “Part of our commitment to ensure students’ safety, we are announcing a new student safety initiative where we will be providing training — mandatory training — for all of our teachers and for our administrators.”

Dr. Cruz explained topics of focus for the training initiative include:

  • Educator’s Code of Ethics
  • Appropriate Student & Employee Relationships, and
  • Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect.

“This new training will go above and beyond and make sure that we all know that student safety is a priority, and it’s at the forefront in the Austin Independent School District,” added Cruz.

Moving forward, two Austin ISD police detectives will now be assigned to sex assault cases. The police department also announced they’re enhancing officers’ training, as well.

“We’re going to enhance our training. We always want to give a lot of training to all of our officers to include our detectives,” said Asst. Chief Chris Evoy.

When asked whether the initiative will require an additional cost for the district, Dr. Cruz responded, “There may be implications as far as resources and support. But, when it’s around student safety, it is a wise expenditure. It is something we will do.”

Last week, the Travis County District Attorney’s Office determined the injuries a 4-year-old Boone Elementary school student had were not due to a crime. The family’s attorney, Paul Guinn, said that the reasoning he was presented from the DA’s Office was that the girl suffered a playground injury. The child’s parents believe the sexual assault happened at school.

Guinn was asked to leave the AISD press conference Tuesday evening, but responded to the announcement of the initiative.

“To date, AISD has not contacted the parents of this girl to explain what happened to their daughter that day at school,” said Guinn. “It’s encouraging if they follow through with these protocols that they’re putting into place. I think that’s great for future cases. Again, I represent this family and we don’t have any answers.”

The child’s teacher was placed on administrative leave as authorities investigated the case. The district says the teacher has been reinstated.

AISD is scheduling another meeting for Boone Elementary parents to attend in order to update them on the incident.

Earlier this month, the child’s family filed a federal lawsuit against the school district and its police department claiming the district covered up sexual assault cases.

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