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IPS tardy on releasing emails in sex case

Posted at 4:52 PM, May 23, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS -- It was six days before employees at IPS reported allegations that a school counselor, Shana Taylor, was having sex with students.

RTV6 wanted to know what happened during those six days, so we requested emails from administrators at Longfellow Alternative School. Two months later, IPS still has not complied with our request.

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Much of what IPS does is public since the school district is funded by taxpayers.

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've checked several times with IPS spokeswoman Kristin Cutler since March 21 about when these documents will be available. Three times IPS has changed the timeline.

Monday, we spoke to the Indiana Public Access Counselor about state law which says that public agencies must hand over documents in a 'reasonable' period of time.

"A public agency should have their files and documents organized in a manner that should be fairly easy to gather documents pursuant to a request within as short amount of time as possible. It's an integral part of their duties," said Luke Britt, Indiana Public Access Counselor.

It is important to note that the three administrators, including Dr. Ferebee, have not faced any charges over this incident.

The principal did resign, telling Call 6 Investigates that it was due to medical reasons.

Two other IPS employees, Shalon Dabney and Lela Hester, were charged in the case against Shana Taylor.

Last week, the two women agreed to enter a diversion program. Once complete, all of the charges against them will be dropped.

We reached out to IPS representatives on Monday, including Dr. Ferebee, to see if they would comment on why our request is taking so long. We received this statement from IPS:

In order to respond to this records request, a vast keyword search was employed requiring manual review of thousands of documents by our attorneys to ensure our compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). As in other cases wherein documents requiring review are voluminous in sum, public access counselor opinions have held that a process requiring a response time of several months is not unreasonable. We strive to provide responses in the most responsible, transparent and expedient manner as possible.