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Third Update from Bethel Superintendent Dr. Carver and BOE Q&A Regarding Ongoing Teacher Investigation

Carver said, “In an effort to keep the whole Bethel Public School community up-to date, please read the attached question and answer document.”

Report by Paula Antolini
March 16, 2015 2:58PM EDT

BethelSchoolSuperintendentDrChristineCarverportrait

Third Message from Superintendent of Bethel Public Schools Dr. Christine Carver, Monday, March 16, 2015:

Good Afternoon,

Over the past week, Dr. Brooks, Mrs. Legnard and I have received several questions from parents and the media. In an effort to keep the whole Bethel Public School community up-to date, please read the attached question and answer document. Please note, we are still bound by confidentiality on many aspects of the case, as it remains an ongoing investigation and we can not release any additional information regarding the details without permission from the investigative authorities. If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

Christine Carver, Ed. D.
Superintendent of Schools
Bethel Public Schools
P.O. Box 253
Bethel, CT 06801
(203)-794-8601

*****

Bethel Board of Education Questions and Answers (Second):

Q: What is sexual assault to the 4th degree?

A: Connecticut law includes several classifications of sexual assault. There are four levels of sexual assault, with Sexual Assault in the 1st degree being the most serious. Sexual assault in the fourth degree involves sexual contact. The statutory language of sexual assault in the fourth degree (Section 53a-73a of the Connecticut General Statutes) can be found at http://www.lawserver.com/law/state/connecticut/ct- laws/connecticut_statutes_53a-73a.

*****

Q: The media have reported on issues relating to Mr. Stroh’s mental health. Did Bethel Public Schools have any indication that Mr. Stroh had mental health issues?

The district cannot comment on private medical records or information about employees or former employees. However, there were no obvious indications that Mr. Stroh was involved in the behavior as alleged.

Q: Does the Bethel Public Schools screen for mental health as part of its hiring process?

A: No; it is generally unlawful to have policies that screen out, or that would tend to screen out, candidates that may have a disability. Hiring decisions are based on the needs of the district and the qualifications of the applicants.

*****

Q: The media reported that the arrest warrant is sealed. What does that mean?

A: Often times the arrest warrant affidavit is sealed at the request of the police for a period of time so as not to compromise the ongoing investigation. If it becomes unsealed at a later time, the names of the victims will be redacted.

Q: Will the public ever be given specific details about the case or victims? Can schools release information regarding victims? Why or why not?

A: The district can only release information that has been publically made available or has been given authorization by investigating bodies. The names of the victims have not been released, or authorized for release, by authorities. In addition, the district respects the privacy, health, and well-being of the victims and would never intentionally release any information about the young children involved in these unfortunate circumstances.

*****

Q: Was Mr. Stroh given awards as part of his employment with the Bethel Public Schools? What were the awards?

A: Mr. Stroh was given the “Pillar of Bethel” award in 2011, as a substitute teacher, and the “Rookie Teacher of the Year” award in 2014. The District did not have any information to raise any concerns about Mr. Stroh’s performance as an employee.

*****

Q: Can the District put restrictions on the media?

A: Several members of the community have asked whether there is a way for the district to prevent news trucks and reporters from setting up cameras in the streets surrounding Berry School.

The Constitution provides a general right of the press to report information. The district has a right to regulate access to school property, including access by the press. It does not, however, have the same ability to regulate access to public roads. It is the district’s goal to work collaboratively with the media to ensure that students’ educational programs are not disrupted, while respecting the media’s right to report on matters of importance.

Q: How should I respond if the media contacts me?

A: No school employee or community member has any obligation to speak to the media. Questions involving the Bethel Public Schools can be referred to the Superintendent’s office.

*****

Q: Can the public obtain a copy of the PowerPoint presentation provided by Family and Children’s Aid Inc. that was presented to families at our informational session on Strategies for Prevention and Talking with your Child?

A: The district will post this presentation on its website. Please look under the link in Parent Resources.

*****

Q: Will there be any charges related to child pornography associated with this case?

A: The police have not released any information regarding this subject.

*****

Q: How can I ensure that I am getting accurate information?

A: The district is striving to ensure that all information released by the district is accurate and based directly on police information authorized for release. Media reports may contain information based on their own sources. The district has no way to verify the accuracy of media reports.

Q: Are the reports concerning this matter circulating on social media accurate?

A: We are aware that rumors related to this matter are circulating on social media. In general, information on social media is not regulated and may be inaccurate or incomplete. Social media likely is not the best source of accurate information. The district encourages all to be mindful that perpetuating rumors relating to this matter on social media, or otherwise, could cause alarm and be damaging to our school community. In addition, social media reports may have the unfortunate effect of causing further stress to affected families during this difficult time.

To the extent that any parent has any question about the accuracy of the information he or she has received, or what
steps are being taken by the district in this situation, we encourage parents to contact Dr. Carver. Dr. Carver will always return the call, with the understanding that the law limits what information she may provide to parents or others making inquiries.

#####

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