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3 faculty members suspended at Arkadelphia elementary campus

Three employees at an Arkadelphia elementary school are now suspended. The superintendent tells FOX16 News the Department of Human Services launched an investigation last month into an incident involving students.
ARKADELPHIA, AR - Three employees at an Arkadelphia elementary school are now suspended. The superintendent tells FOX16 News the Department of Human Services launched an investigation last month into an incident involving students.

It's not a typical Monday at Perritt Primary School in Arkadelphia. Three faculty members are suspended, the long time principal abruptly retiring Friday.

And parents like Chanel Perry struggling to find out what's going at her children's school.

"We don't know anything and that is what really ticks me off," Perry says. "I want to know why it's being hidden from parents, I want to know the truth. It's our school, we're supposed to be safe here, we come here everyday."

All Donnie Whitten, superintendent of Arkadelphia Schools, can say on the record is that DHS opened an investigation March 28th.

"There are a lot of rumors that are going on in the community,” Whitten says. “At this point the district does not know exactly what happened with the students."

Whitten says the investigation only involves students at the kindergarten and 1st grade campus and that faculty didn't handle it correctly.

"It was mainly about what are staff did or did not do in response to allegations," Whitten says.

DHS won't talk about a specific case, but says the state mandated reporting law requires teachers to report any abuse to authorities. Something Whitten says his staff his familiar with.

"Certainly we train our teachers on mandated reporting laws, we've had training,” Whitten says. “The last training was on October 21st."

Whitten says a letter would be sent home with parents on Monday evening making them aware of a new school principal but won't get into details of the investigation.

Perry says parents should know more.

"Change is coming. When you hide things this is the outcome of hiding things, this is the result," Perry says.

Whitten wants parents to know their first priority is keeping kids safe in a positive and safe learning environment. He says that is happening now.

Whitten says he will recommend the three faculty members be terminated after their 30 day suspension. He says he does not have specifics on what occurred at the school, but added he does not anticipate police will become involved.

Statement from Arkadelphia Public Schools

The Arkadelphia School District has been working with the Department of Human Services on a matter involving students at Louisa E. Perritt Primary School. Based on preliminary information obtained on Wednesday afternoon from an ongoing DHS investigation and internal sources, the district has suspended three (3) employees at the school with a recommendation to terminate their employment contracts. A fourth employee submitted a retirement letter to the district effective April 27, 2012. These issues are considered confidential student and personnel matters. The district cannot make any further comments at this time.

Our first and only priority at this time is ensuring the well being of our students, and providing them with a positive, supportive and safe learning environment.

Donnie Whitten
Superintendent
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