NORWAY – SAD 17 Superintendent Mark Eastman said an investigation into alleged inappropriate touching of a first- grade girl last week revealed that a second-grade boy did touch her during what he described was a “tickling game.”

The incident was at the end of a nearly 10-minute bus ride from Oxford Elementary School to the girl’s stop in Oxford. It was viewed on videotape by school administrators as part of their two-day investigation. The girl’s parents have not allowed school officials to interview her.

“It’s fortunate there was a bus tape,” Eastman said, adding that “appropriate action” has been taken against the second-grader, but he is prohibited by law from discussing details.

The girl’s mother, Deborah Walo, said Monday afternoon that she had not been contacted by school officials about their investigation and could not comment because she has not seen the videotape.

Although reports from Walo indicated her daughter was inappropriately touched by either a second-grade or kindergarten student or both, Eastman said the tape clearly revealed only the second grade boy placing his hands inappropriately on the girl on the outside of her clothing.

An investigation remains under way by the Oxford Police Department after Walo filed a complaint last week.

Eastman said last week that the students had recently been trained by the Rape Education and Crisis Hotline in the Three Kinds of Touches Program, and the girl took the right action in reporting what she felt was an inappropriate touch.

The program was reintroduced into the elementary school last year and is taught by REACH counselors to kindergarten, first and second grades. It offers age and developmentally appropriate explanations about “safe, ouch and uh oh touches” and personal boundaries.

“We still believe the safety training was the right thing to do,” Eastman said. “The bottom line is awareness is valuable.”

REACH Director Debbie Dembski said the program discusses how touches make children feel and what to do about touches that are not safe.

Walo said her daughter got off the school bus and immediately told her parents what had happened using the terminology from the program.

She said she has contacted several attorneys in addition to filing a police complaint and notifying the Department of Education and civil rights division on the federal level. At the least, she said she hopes to get legislation passed that would required bus monitors.

“If I get nothing else, we want to get this law passed,” Walo said. She and her husband had offered to volunteer as bus monitors but were told by school officials they could not because of school insurance restrictions, she said.

Walo contends that an appropriate adult/child ratio, which is required in everything from field trips to the classrooms, should be implemented on school buses.

“We’re expecting our bus drivers to monitor what’s going on on the bus and be able to safely maneuver our buses,” she said.

School officials have said putting monitors on some 40 school buses is cost prohibitive.

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