- Associated Press - Friday, March 18, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The district’s delayed response to an official accused of having sexual encounters with students has prompted Indianapolis Public Schools to strengthen its procedures for handling reports of suspected child abuse or neglect.

Superintendent Lewis Ferebee told the Indianapolis Star (http://indy.st/1RqLxEG ) on Thursday that school officials are now required to report any allegations of abuse or neglect to the district’s police department. School officials were previously required to report such allegations to the Indiana Department of Child Services.

The policy change is the result of problems with the district’s handling of child sex abuse allegations against a former counselor.

Shana Taylor is accused of engaging in sexual conduct with one student in multiple locations, including the school, between October and February. The encounters began when the student was 16 and continued after he turned 17, according to the Marion County prosecutor’s office.

Taylor also is accused of having a sexual encounter with a second student who was 16 at the time.

Court records and interviews indicate that at least six district officials, including Ferebee, learned of the allegations as early as Feb. 17, but no one reported the allegations until Feb. 23.

Ferebee said he didn’t report it himself because he didn’t have “relevant facts about the allegation.”

“I did not have age, name, text messages, photos, anything that was associated with this claim,” he said. “So I just want to be clear about that. If I had that type of information, obviously I would have an obligation there. But I did not have that information.”

Earlier this month, Ferebee said the district would “aggressively” pursue disciplinary action against school employees who failed to immediately report the allegations against Taylor. The school board hasn’t taken any action against those employees because it’s waiting from recommendations from Ferebee, according to board president Mary Ann Sullivan.

On Thursday, Ferebee said some employees are involved in disciplinary action, but he didn’t share any additional information.

Sullivan declined to comment on whether the board would pursue disciplinary action against Ferebee.

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Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com

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