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Father says Sioux City school officials not responsive to sexual abuse of 4-year-old child
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Father says Sioux City school officials not responsive to sexual abuse of 4-year-old child


SIOUX CITY -- The father of a 4-year-old girl says Sioux City school district officials have not been responsive to his concerns in the wake of another child allegedly sexually assaulting his daughter during an after school program in November.

Chad Kastrel said his daughter began exhibiting troubling new behaviors after she was assaulted by a 6-year-old girl at the Beyond The Bell program at Leeds Elementary School on Nov. 10. By Nov. 21 the girl spoke of the incident to her parents, and has "suffered greatly" due to what she experienced, he said.

"This is a massive failure of the district's behalf. After we reported it to the school, we had a very difficult time. We were told there was not enough evidence, even though we had support from the police department and reports from three child psychologists, all experts in trauma," Kastrel said.

Sioux City Police Department spokesman Jeremy McClure confirmed a report of sexual abuse was filed with the department.

"As the matter involves two young juveniles, I am unable to release any more detail than that, but will say that no adults are suspected of committing any acts of abuse in this incident," McClure said in a statement to the Journal.

"In incidents where juveniles are too young to be considered legally culpable, referrals to appropriate agencies are made. The Sioux City Police Department thoroughly investigates allegations of abuse against children and works with several experts and organizations in the community to render services to and protect children."

School district spokeswoman Mandie Mayo said Friday she cannot comment on the incident, due to student privacy laws.

"The Sioux City Community School District is committed to maintaining the safety of every student. The district works with all of our families and students when we become aware of a concern about a student’s well-being," Mayo said.

Kastrel said school administrators, including Leeds Elementary School Principal Angela Bemus, district Director of Student Services & Equity Education Jen Gomez and Superintendent Paul Gausman were not responsive in conducting an investigation in accordance with school policy, as set in the Anti-Bullying and Harassment section.

Kastrel said a full investigation into what he frames as mishandling of the policy did not occur, until Gausman was spurred by an email sent to both the superintendent and Iowa Department of Education.

"I hold all of the district responsible," Kastrel said.

Krastel brought his concerns to the school board earlier this week and the Sioux City Council last week. He shared with the Journal copies of interviews of his daughter by medical professionals, and a portion said the youngster used anatomically correct dolls to show how she was allegedly assaulted by the other child.

Kastrel said he has withdrawn the daughter from the school for home schooling, after being displeased that school officials declined his request to have the other child transferred to another school. Instead, district officials suggested his daughter transfer to Riverside Elementary School. He said that was not a workable solution, since his family also has two other children who attend Leeds Elementary.

"She has already suffered greatly and the child psychologists didn't feel she could continue in school. (The psychologist) felt that if we didn't pull her, kindergarten would have been impossible," Kastrel said. "We are trying to rebuild her confidence."

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Mayo said board policies set out various procedures in place for parents, students and staff to follow when there are concerns about a situation that might impact a student’s educational opportunity.

"When a concern is reported to us, the district will take steps to understand what occurred, and in appropriate situations may collaborate with and/or refer the matter to the proper agencies or authorities. All staff within the Sioux City Community School District are committed to providing a supportive environment that is conducive to learning," Mayo said.

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