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Did BHS employee know teacher had sex with student? - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Did BHS employee know teacher had sex with student?

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Giovanna Yaranga Giovanna Yaranga
BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Former Burlington High School teacher Giovanna Yaranga confessed in court Friday to having sex with one of her students. And just days later, an internal investigation from the Burlington School District reveals that a district employee may have had knowledge of the illegal behavior and failed to report it to the Department of Children and Families as required by law. District officials are not saying who that is, but the report says it was a part-time teacher.

"There is further investigation to do around a particular employee around whether the mandatory reporting law was met," said Jeanne Collins, the superintendent of Burlington schools.

Collins says the law is clear.

"The fact is the law says you have to report, you have to. It's about safety of students, it's not about somebody's reputation or concern about being wrong," she said.

The district hired former Vermont State Police Investigator Jim Cronan to head its investigation. Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan calls Cronan well-respected and is awaiting his report. Donovan says waiting for the district to complete its investigation into officials was a good use of resources rather that launching a police investigation from the start.

"We feel like we're entitled to that report, we'll obtain that report, we'll certainly ask for it, if we're not given it, we'll subpoena it. And we'll do our own review and if criminal charges are appropriate, we'll file the appropriate criminal charges," Donovan said.

Donovan says what he's seen so far suggests there may be criminal activity and he is applauding the district's efforts to get to the bottom of what happened.

"Certainly right at the outset they're not trying to cover anything up if they're flagging and highlighting possible liability that an employee did not report it," Donovan said. "So, that should give everybody faith that the school district did their due diligence, did their job and did it well."

Collins says the final report should be out soon, and that in the meantime, she is reviewing mandatory reporting requirements with her staff. She wants parents to feel confident their kids are safe.

"I would say yes, I would say this very unfortunate and very regrettable incident probably increases that likelihood because as I said a moment ago, nobody can keep their head in the sand," Collins said.

In Danville, two school officials were arraigned last month for not reporting an alleged groping incident to DCF within 24 hours. Jeanne Collins says she does not believe this case rises to that level. The state's attorney was not ready to comment on that.

If convicted, mandatory reporters can face six months in jail. It's worth noting, when Giovanna Yaranga admitted to actually having sex with one of her students, her sentence did not include any jail time.

Click here to read the executive summary of James Cronan's Investigation and Analysis on the Giovanna Yaranga Incident.

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