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Dean at Polk Co. high school accused of failing to report alleged sexual abuse between students

Posted at 6:38 PM, Jun 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-05 18:40:36-04

HAINES CITY, Fla. — The dean at Ridge Community High School in Haines City is facing charges after police say he failed to report criminal sexual abuse involving two students.

Haines City Police say on May 28 a student came to Kevin Sanford, 38, and accused another student of criminal sexual conduct. The principal told Sanford law enforcement should have been notified immediately, but police say they found out later that day when the incident was reported at a Lake County ER.

The mother of the student who alleges the abuse says she spoke with Sanford that day around 12 p.m. Police say Sanford told the mother he would call back after reviewing video from the area of campus where the incident is said to have happened.

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The mother told police she never heard back, so she called the school and was told Sanford left for the day. She took her daughter to the Lake County ER, according to police.

Police made contact with Sanford at the school the following day. They say he became physically irate, argumentative and failed to provide pertinent information related to the incident.

Sanford told police he didn't notify them because it was the end of the school day and he hadn't completed his investigation. He declined to speak with detectives further, police say.

"When parents send their children off to school, they should be able to do so with trust in the school's administration," Chief Elensky said. "Mr. Sanford failed to act in this case, but we appreciate that the rest of the administration was very cooperative in this investigation."

Sanford has been with Polk County Public Schools for 15 years. Police say he has no other disciplinary action in his file.

"I am terribly disappointed by the allegations that a staff member failed to report abuse," said Jacqueline M. Byrd, Superintendent of Polk County Public Schools. "As educators, we have been entrusted with ensuring the safety and well-being of our students. Allegations of abuse must always be promptly reported to the proper authorities. Failure to do so is not only illegal, it places our students at risk of further abuse we cannot and will not allow that to happen. We are cooperating fully with our partners in law enforcement, and should we determine disciplinary action is merited based on the law enforcement investigation, I will act swiftly and to the fullest extent of my authority."

No other information regarding the alleged abuse was immediately available.