HIGHGATE: Winton Goodrich, the Superintendent for Franklin Northwest Supervisory Union responded to the most recent allegations that a former school employee had oral sex, on a fairly regular basis, in a bathroom at the school.
“Absolutely not!” Goodrich said in a telephone interview with the County Courier on Thursday, “Nothing happened at school. Kids are supervised all the time at school, after school, the transition to and from school on school property… I want to make it very clear to families that we run a tight ship.”
This comes as newly released court documents outline allegations that would contradict that statement.
Goodrich made it clear the safety of the students is the number one concern and that’s Highgate’s concern, as well as FNWSU as a whole, noting that it comes before educating students.
“This situation happened after Spears was hired and you don’t have much control over what people do outside of school,” Goodrich said, noting that until today the allegations were related to conduct outside of school, “These are allegations and people are going to say what they are going to say, but if we find out that this happened inside school we are certainly going to be dealing with that.”
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“We have 2,000 students and 500 employees. This is the peoples’ business and you can’t control everything that everyone does, but we can control how we scrutinize backgrounds when people are coming onboard,” Goodrich said.
Goodrich said the school does thorough background checks for every staff member and volunteer that works at the school, including FBI fingerprints.
“By and large, the majority of our people do an exceptional job working with children that have many many challenges, many more challenges in the past five or 10 years,” Goodrich said.
Although Goodrich admittedly disagreed that there could have been a scenario where a staff member could take a student into the Teachers’ Lounge bathroom without noticing, he did say that he would be looking into the case more Thursday afternoon.
“Whether true or not, the perception is that it happened, so parents are certainly going to go there,” Goodrich said.
“It’s a sad day,” Goodrich said several times throughout the interview as the County Courier talked through some of the details of the allegations.
The school has responded by making sure that there is a “safety plan” for all the students involved, according to Goodrich. “We’re working with parents on the inside.”
Goodrich said the school was working to protect the students in the school, most particularly the alleged victim in the case.
“Its eyes on all kids,” Goodrich said of the school’s safety plan, “especially those who are directly involved. That’s what schools do- they take care of kids and that’s what we are doing.”
“Schools are in an untenable position in situations like this,” Goodrich said, “
The County Courier asked Goodrich if there were cameras that would have captured the student and Ms. Spears going in and out of the staff lounge.
“I need to check that,” Goodrich said, “but I’m quite sure there are cameras in that hallway. So I’m going to be doing some checking after this phone call.”
The Highgate Elementary School remains closed through the end of the week for Spring Vacation.