D.C. truancy report’s absence raises ire

Mendelson assails schools chief

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Officials concluded the allegations were unfounded, but Mr. Mendelson said DCPS waited for more than two months to acknowledge that the CFSA contacted the school official who looked into the matter, and not the other way around.

“I think that the school system once again circled the wagons and covered it up,” Mr. Mendelson said.

Ms. Henderson strongly objected to that characterization, saying she took on the matter when it was reported, and a miscommunication from CSFA led to the confusion over the sequence of reporting.

Mr. Mendelson said school officials could jeopardize an investigation by taking matters into their own hands, including directly contacting parents.

Ms. Henderson agreed but noted the law states a principal should have “reasonable cause” to suspect abuse before reporting it.

Nonetheless, Mr. Mendelson said, he has broad concerns about a reluctance to report cases of abuse.

“There is enormous pressure not to report,” he said. “Look at Penn State. When it was reported, it was reported through a grand jury indictment, and there were riots.”

Ms. Henderson said the incident at Randle Highlands escalated unnecessarily because the woman who brought up the allegations, Geraldine Washington, excessively interfered in a situation that did not involve her child, prompting the school to bar her from the campus.

In turn, Mr. Mendelson noted he should be allowed to review such “barring notices.”

The council, he said, is allowed to see juvenile justice records, yet he was rebuffed in his request for details about barring notices issued by DCPS during this school year.

“There are only 14,” he said.

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