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Nautilus staff acted properly, District says

A Federal Way Public Schools investigation into inappropriate touching at Nautilus Elementary has concluded that school staff responded appropriately to the allegations.

Rick Serns, the district’s Title IX officer and lead investigator, interviewed school staff, parents and the children involved in the complaint, which alleged that a 6-year-old, first-grade boy inappropriately touched female classmates on the playground and during a movie in class March 6.

The mother of the girl touched during class told the district she was dissatisfied with principal Cindy Black’s response to the incident.

Black said there might have been a misunderstanding because similar reports of inappropriate touching involving the boy occurred the same day.

A first-grade girl told a recess supervisor the boy was touching her friend on the playground and that several other girls also had been bothered by the boy. The recess supervisor reported the allegation to school counselor Cecilia Kolano.

Kolano interviewed the girls and Black interviewed the boy, who said he touched the girl because she asked him to, according to the report.

Black met with several first-grade teachers and playground supervisors and sent letters home to parents informing them of the incident and asking them to call her office if they had more information.

She said no one has called since the letters went home.

Black said she thought that was the extent of the March 6 incident, which is why she didn’t respond to the activity that happened during class the same day, according to the report.

It wasn’t until March 19 that Black learned the incident in the classroom was separate from the activity on the playground, the report said.

The next day, Black placed the girl who was touched during the movie in a different classroom and directed Kolano to file a report with Child Protective Services.

Kolano didn’t file the report until March 26 because of scheduling difficulties, but during an April 3 interview, CPS caseworkers found no history of problems with the boy.

Black said there haven’t been any other reports of inappropriate touching since March 6, and no parents have called with additional information.

Serns’ report concludes Black and school staff acted appropriately in reporting the allegations to supervisors, interviewing the students involved, counseling the boy and later contacting CPS.

“We take all complaints really seriously, and the parents trust us to do that,” Black said.

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