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IPS releases emails in Shana Taylor case

Posted at 6:36 PM, May 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-26 18:36:44-04

INDIANAPOLIS – After months of requests and waiting, we finally got our hands on emails between administrators at Indianapolis Public Schools Thursday. They shed light on what happened during the 6 days no one reported sex-abuse allegations to the Department of Child Services.

Our Monday RTV6 investigation on why it was taking so long to release the emails is a primary reason they were made public this week.

And our Tuesday story was exclusive on an NAACP member calling on the superintendent to resign.

PREVIOUS | Two months later, IPS still holding on to secret emails in sex scandal

Indiana Code 31-33-5-4 requires schools to orally report “immediately” to the Indiana Department of Child Services or local law enforcement.

MORE | NAACP member calls on IPS Supt. Dr. Ferebee to resign

RTV6 wanted to know what happened during those six days, so we requested emails from administrators at Longfellow Alternative School. Over two months later, we got some of them.

PREVIOUS | IPS waited 6 days to report alleged abuse to DCS

We learned that, despite some criticism of his handling of the investigation, there were no emails available sent to or from Superintendent Dr. Lewis Ferebee referring to allegations against Taylor during those six days.

PREVIOUS | Court docs: IPS counselor was involved with at least 2 students

But we do have a better idea now of what went on behind the scenes.

IPS turned over roughly 70 pages of documents – some redacted – from the timeframe of employees first becoming aware of allegations, to six days later when DCS was notified.

Our request included related emails from the assistant principal and principal at Longfellow Alternative School, as well as emails from Superintendent Lewis Ferebee, to see specifically what they knew or discussed.

We found several emails between human resources case worker Shalon Dabney (one of the employees charged over the DCS issue) and the principal – who later resigned for “medical reasons.”

In one email, former principal Mark Cosand messaged his secretary to de-activate Shana Taylor’s badge, writing “no questions top secret.”

We also found concern about network access, but no mention of contacting DCS to report the accusations until day 5 of the emails, when Dabney emailed Cosand about submitting a report to DCS.

The other employee facing charges is Lela Hester, the director of human resources.

Superintendent Ferebee promised punishment for those who didn’t report the cases to DCS. But at this point, no one has been fired.

Ferebee says this week, the discipline process is ongoing and could take a couple more weeks.

The school board is set to meet Thursday night, but it’s unclear if it will discuss the situation.

We’ve attached copies of some of the emails made public below.