Molestation case raises questions about school supervision - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Molestation case raises questions about school supervision

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HYDE PARK, Vt. -

Many parents send their kids to school with the expectation that they're safe and supervised. Parents gathered at a bakery in Hyde Park discussed their expectations.

"Supervision, I think that the people who are in the building are going to be looking out for their safety," said Greg Stefanski, a social worker with Laraway Youth and Family Services.

"My hope is that every kid and the teachers will be safe in the school environment," said Rich Farrell, a dad.

"You can't just leave when you want," said Laurie Bohannon, a mom.

But that may not always be the case. It was in the parking lot of the Lamoille Union High School where Gary Loomis, 56, of Jeffersonville, allegedly picked up his 15-year-old victim before driving her off campus to have sex when she should have been in study hall.

"I think disgust captures it," Farrell said.

"I think it is disgusting," Bohannon said.

Loomis stands accused of two sexual encounters with the teen that stemmed from roughly half a dozen meetings that began on school grounds late last year.

"What can you say? It's horrific and the scariest thing you can imagine for a child and certainly for your own children," Stefanski said.

Superintendent Joe Ciccolo refused to speak with me on camera about how a student could repeatedly leave campus undetected on multiple occasions and instead pointed me to the school's policies in the student handbook. It provided few answers. The document says students must be prepared to work or read in a supervised study hall and it goes on to say, "If students must leave the school building or the school grounds at any time during the school day, they must have a pass from the school office." If he or she is going home sick they must be signed out by a parent or guardian.

"When I heard about it on your news show I was sickened that this type of situation would happen, knowing, however, that if a student really wants to leave a school, nobody is following them around," Vt. Education Secretary Armando Vilaseca said.

Vilaseca does not know the details behind what happened in Hyde Park, but says attendance should be closely monitored.

"Obviously when a student missed class more than once or twice that should be flagged and there should be follow up to that," Vilaseca said.

And the former high school principal says that all schools should have a supervision plan in place.

"I think all schools should have a system that provides some supervision in the parking lots, as well as in the schools, so that the administration knows who is on campus or not," Vilaseca said.

In interviews off camera, Superintendent Ciccolo said, "We have buildings and not prisons," and that the school had not failed the alleged victim in any way. He says the school's connection to the alleged sexual assaults was a "very small part of a bigger issue."

I did try to interview Lamoille Union High School principal Brian Schaffer on camera about procedures in his school, that request was denied.

Related Story:

Jeffersonville man accused of molesting teen

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