Houston teacher, school administrators charged with failure to report child abuse


by Jeremy Desel & Tiffany Craig / KHOU 11 News


Posted on February 14, 2012 at 11:38 AM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 14 at 7:12 PM

HOUSTON—The top two administrators and a teacher at a Galveston County school are charged with failure to report child abuse after leaving a student’s concerns unheard for nearly three weeks, officials said.

Mainland Preparatory Academy is used to making history, as it was the first charter school in Galveston County. Now the La Marque charter school is first again—but this time it is no honor. Officials at Mainland Prep are the first to be charged under a Texas law which requires teachers, school officials, doctors and other professionals to report evidence of abuse within 48 hours.

It started in December when a 10-year-old student told her teacher that she had been sexually assaulted by a family member.  After she told her teacher, no one from the school told anyone else, until 20 days later.

School Superintendent Diane Merchant, Principal Wilma Green, and the teacher, Rayshonda Ashton, turned themselves in on Friday to Galveston County officials, and all were released on $1,000 bonds.

Police said the administrators admitted that they thought someone else was going to report the abuse.

If convicted, all three could face up to 180 days in jail and/or a $2,000 fine.

Parents on Tuesday said they were upset about the allegations.

"I think they should have reported it right away. If a child is getting abused at home, and they have nowhere else to turn, then maybe school is the safest place for them," parent Selma Smith said.

"I think that they should have been arrested, that is their responsibility. I mean, as a parent, if my child comes to you and says someone is doing this I would definitely want it reported," said Tiffany Profitt, another parent at Mainland.

The accused family member has been charged with sexual assault of a child and made his first court appearance Tuesday morning.

He has said the allegations are untrue.