Inappropriate touching among kindergarteners at Brevard school investigated
Updated On: Mar 07 2013 07:23:41 PM EST
An investigation has been launched amid allegations that kindergarten students touched each other inappropriately in a Brevard County school classroom.
A bullying investigation led to the discovery of the other acts, and officials from the Department of Children and Families, Brevard County Sheriff's Office and Brevard Public Schools are looking into the allegations at Mims Elementary School.
Officials on Thursday said there are 16 students in the class, several of whom were involved in the inappropriate behavior, described as sexual touching, which occurred for months.
"It wasn't an incident where one student did something to another student," said District Security Director Andrea Alford. "This involved, over time, student behaviors."
The kindergarten teacher, Rebekah Harm, was in charge of the classroom at the time of the inappropriate behavior, said officials, who added that she resigned for unrelated reasons.
School officials said Harm had performance issues related to her job prior to the inappropriate behavior among the students but would not provide any other details.
"It had nothing to do with this," said district official Michelle Irwin. "We were not notified of this investigation until after the teacher resigned."
DCF officials first learned about the inappropriate behavior on March 1 and contacted school officials.
Detectives talked to every student in the class, raising the ire of some parents, who were not informed about the police interviews.
Students in the class are being offered counseling, school officials said.
"The concern first is always for the children. You don't know where that behavior initiated from so always children are spoken to by DCF and law
enforcement first," Alford said.
On Tuesday, the school district sent parents a letter informing them of the investigation.
Local 6 obtained a copy of the letter from a grandparent of one of the students in the class. She did not want to talk on camera, but confirmed that her grandson and all of his classmates were questioned by authorities and asked if they had ever been inappropriately touched or witnessed any inappropriate touching.
On Wednesday night, investigators and school district officials held a meeting with parents. The hour-long meeting was held at Mims Elementary and was closed to the media.
School parents tell Local 6 the incident has them concerned of what else could be missed in a classroom.
"If that's going on in the classroom and the teacher is not paying attention who knows what else is going on?" said Maryellen, a parent at the school.
Watch Local 6 News and stay with ClickOrlando.com for more on this story.