Did Imagine School principal fail to report suspected case of child abuse?

8:57 PM, Dec 4, 2013   |    comments
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Selenia Quinones has been the school leader, or principal, at Imagine Charter School, since August last year.
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Lakewood Ranch, Florida -- Imagine Charter School in Lakewood Ranch has been without its principal Selenia Quinones since October when she was reportedly placed on administrative leave.

Manatee Sheriff's officials say Quinones failed to report a suspected case of child abuse between students in pre-Kindergarten.

"That makes me sick to my stomach, says parent Yvonne Vizcarra.

"Somebody does something wrong, you definitely need to report it -- especially that kind of situation," says Willie Grathwohl who has a daughter in the sixth grade. 

According to deputies, in October a parent filed a complaint a four-year-old boy performed oral sex on her four-year-old son and possibly other students.

Imagine School administrators conducted an internal investigation. The report gives a timeline of events starting with the original incident in April that when a group of four, four-year-old boys reportedly showed their private parts to each other.

The report states the principal followed the proper procedure by conducting interviews with the teachers and notifying parents.

In July, a parent came forward after her son talked about oral sex during that April incident. No further action was taken until October when that parent told another parent that her son was a victim.

The school's internal investigation concluded, "...there is not one piece of evidence, nor are there independent witnesses to substantiate the claim."

Yvonne Vizcarra's son is in the first grade. She says the school never notified parents. 

"My son goes there. How do I know nothing happened to my kid?"

Quinones has been the school leader, or principal, since August last year. Some students and parents have good things to say about her.

Sixth grader Holly Grathwohl, 12, says, "Whenever I need something she helps me out. She respects what I have to say. I like her."

Renatta Obannon's two children attend Imagine School.

"I'm not concerned -- really I'm not. I mean it's an error in judgment. She's a well versed and qualified principal and it could be her demise -- that's a shame."

Another parent, Jason Midura, called 10 News to voice his support for the principal and staff.

"I have all the faith in the world in the school staff and teachers," says Midura.

But Vizcarra says the principal's apparent inaction shakes her trust in the school.

"She wasn't a good principal. She should have reported it right away. I'm speechless."

According to the school's own internal investigation, the parents of some of the students involved in this case work at the school.

What's next? It's up to the State Attorneys' Office to decide if Quinones will be charged. The assistant state attorney on the case tells 10 News they should have a decision by the end of the week. If charged, Quinones faces up to five years in jail.

Calls to Quinones by 10 News have not been returned.

Isabel Mascarenas

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