The fallout continues at a Boston charter school after allegations that a 6-year-old sexually abused other children on a school bus.
As necn Investigates has learned, Boston Renaissance Charter School in Hyde Park did not contact officials from the Department of Education. According to state officials, they are legally obligated to contact the state after a "significant incident" within two business days.
"They are not facing penalties at this time, although we expect to send them a formal letter about the reporting requirement in addition to the conversations and correspondence we have had with them over the last 24 hours," said Jackie Reis, a spokesperson for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Boston Public Schools has placed the bus driver on paid administrative leave as a precaution. BPS provides transportation for the charter school.
Earlier Tuesday, the charter school did send out a notice to parents outlining why they did not immediately notify parents on Nov. 3.
"We consulted with the Child Advocacy Center and followed applicable state and federal legal guidelines in determining how to communicate with the families involved and the broader school community," the letter read. "We have been cooperating fully with these agencies from the beginning ... This is a highly sensitive matter. We ask our school community to respect the privacy of our students and families, and allow the school to handle this appropriately."
Meanwhile, community advocates are urging Boston Public School officials to put monitors on all school buses.
Boston Police said they can't say much about the investigation because of the children's ages, including when the alleged incidents happened or how many children may have been assaulted. The mother of one of the children who was allegedly assaulted said the incidents began at the beginning of the school year, and alleged at least four students were assaulted.
"We have to look at this issue. Our children are not safe on any school bus that does not have a monitor," community activist Mary Franklin said at a press conference Tuesday. "Our mayor has to step up and he has to see these children as valuable human beings and protect them and keep them safe."
Police were first notified of the incidents on Nov. 3 by Boston Renaissance Charter School in Hyde Park. They referred the matter to the Children's Advocacy Center of Suffolk County because of the ages of the students involved. The state Department of Education was also not notified within the required two-day window.
The Suffolk County District Attorney's Office said it is aware of the allegations and is coordinating with Boston Police, the school and the Children's Advocacy Center. Juvenile court only has jurisdiction over children age 7 or older, so no charges can be brought against someone under that age.
Advocates now want parents and citizens, along with Mayor Marty Walsh and Superintendent of Schools Tommy Chang to meet for a town hall on Dec. 29 to discuss school bus monitors.
"Every school bus carrying the most precious cargo, which is our children, our grandchildren, family members, and friends, have the right to ride to and from school safely and to be respected," Franklin said. "Let me be clear here - monitors are needed, regardless of a school being a public charter or district."
Parents said the school only notified them of the incidents on Monday - more than two weeks after police were called - after some of the details were shared by a parent on Facebook over the weekend.
The mother of one alleged victim said her son was molested a number of times.
"He said it happened more than 10 times," said the mother, who did not want to be named. "As a mom, I lost it. My son was being touched on the bus by another child that's 6 years old. The kid wanted my son to play with his genitals and he wanted my son to play with his genitals also. He mentioned a lot of grabbing of the buttocks."
The mother said the boy, who is now under investigation, also made threats.
"He made mention that there were guns at his house and if he was going to say anything that he was going to kill me," she said.
According to the mother of the alleged victim, she was told by school officials that another student saw what happened and told an administrator.
Boston Renaissance Charter School issued a statement Monday saying that it is taking the matter "very seriously" and has taken steps to ensure student safety and to protect the privacy of the students involved.
"We are aware of the Facebook post that has been circulating regarding an alleged incident on a school bus earlier this month," the school said. "We can assure all Boston Renaissance families that the school leadership team took immediate action and followed appropriate legal protocols, contacting law enforcement immediately upon learning of the issue.
"This is a highly sensitive matter," the school added. "We ask our school community to respect the privacy of our students and families, and allow the school to handle this appropriately."
Franklin, the grandmother of a 6-year-old student in Boston schools, said it's time for the "lies and excuses" to end.
"There are too many horrific stories of abuse, neglect and dangerous behaviors that are taking place on many school buses," she said. "These occurrences are added trauma to the overwhelming issues our children are confronted with in their communities.
"As parents and concerned citizens, we can no longer allow our children to be mistreated, abused and viewed as if they don't matter to the City of Boston. We want to ensure that our children are safe going and coming to school."
Renaissance Charter School is not part of the Boston Public School District. Boston Public Schools provides bus service to all public and charter schools in the city of Boston.
The school will be holding a meeting with parents Monday night at 6 p.m. to address concerns.
They told necn it is not open to the public. Only parents will be allowed to attend.