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Oak Hall parent under investigation for ‘inappropriate’ interactions with two students

Published: Mar. 3, 2021 at 2:00 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 3, 2021 at 9:55 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - An Oak Hall parent is banned from school property and is under investigation, after allegedly engaging in “inappropriate, and potentially illegal, interactions” with two OHS Upper School students.

“We have also invoked our right to ban this parent from campus, including all campus sporting events,” said Head of School Dr. James Hutchins in a letter to parents. “At this time, we have no indication or reason to believe that her misconduct occurred on school property or at a school event. We also have no indication that any other children were involved, other than the students who were identified in the allegations we reported to DCF and law enforcement. These families have been notified.”

Alachua County Sheriff’s Office is leading the investigation.

“We are conducting an investigation into allegations that inappropriate actions happened between an adult and student(s). At this time the case is still open and active and I cannot provide you with any further information,” said ASO Public Information Officer Art Forgey.

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Here is the complete letter sent to Oak Hall families:

Dear Oak Hall Families,

We pride ourselves on being members of the Oak Hall family, and while there are moments of great joy that we share together, there are also moments of challenge and difficulty. This is one of those moments.

The School recently learned that a Middle School parent had allegedly engaged in inappropriate, and potentially illegal, interactions with two OHS Upper School students. We immediately reported these allegations involving her actions to the appropriate authorities, as we are required to do by Florida law. We have also invoked our right to ban this parent from campus, including all campus sporting events. At this time, we have no indication or reason to believe that her misconduct occurred on school property or at a school event. We also have no indication that any other children were involved, other than the students who were identified in the allegations we reported to DCF and law enforcement. These families have been notified.

There is still an active law enforcement investigation that prevents us from being able to share more details about these circumstances. Furthermore, both student privacy and victim protection laws prevent us from identifying any individuals involved in these interactions.

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We believe that it is important to inform you of these events and have done so as soon as we were able without interfering with the active criminal investigation. We want to be as open and transparent as we can be with our school community and to assure you of our commitment to providing a safe, healthy, and supportive educational environment where your children can grow and thrive. We also want you, as parents, to have the opportunity to talk to your child about safety, related both to personal physical safety and to safety in online communications. As many of you can relate, so much communication among both adults and teenagers occurs electronically, and this is information that we as a school are not able to directly access or monitor. Although we have no indication that any other children were involved in any inappropriate or unsafe circumstances, we want to empower you to take whatever steps you may feel necessary to be informed and aware of your child’s relationships and communications with others. For resources and support tools provided by our school’s counselors, please click here. If you feel your student needs counseling or assistance with regards to this matter, please contact Jamie Garvey at jgarvey@oakhall.org or 352-332-3609 ext. 206.

The members of our community directly affected by these deeply upsetting and personal events will need our empathy and support, but also our discretion. We ask that our students, families, and staff avoid engaging with or spreading rumors or unnecessarily discussing these events at school. We hope to avoid contributing to the distress and negative impacts already experienced by the affected students and their families. We need your help in continuing our mission to be a supportive learning community.

In the event you have specific information related to this issue or would like to speak to one of our staff regarding any concerns, please contact Corinna French, Marketing & Communications Coordinator, at cfrench@oakhall.org or 352-872-5721.

We are extremely saddened by these events and the pain and confusion they have caused the students and families involved and may cause our community as a whole. We are confident that the Oak Hall community will continue to demonstrate the care and compassion for which we are known.

James Hutchins

Head of School

Stay with TV20 as we continue to follow this developing story.

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