Superintendent responds to life skills scandal
NEBRASKA CITY – Nebraska City School Superintendent Mark Fritch has issued a statement pertaining to a scandal in the life skills program at the high school.
Fritch said it has been a very challenging time in Nebraska City Public Schools.
Fritch: “We want our community to know that once the police made the district aware of the allegations, the district acted immediately. Our priority now is to support students and staff through this difficult time. We feel for everyone involved.”
Police began an investigation into an abuse complaint at the high school in October and collected audio recordings from a student’s mother. Police Ofc. Casey Fertig reported an interview with the student in an arrest affidavit that names three staff members. Police say additional staff members are identified from audio recorded by a device in the student’s pocket.
The Otoe County Attorney’s Office filed criminal charges alleging abuse against three former school employees.
Fertig said she told Principal Brian Hoover on Oct. 4 that she was investigating a complaint of bullying by teachers. Hoover provided video from the gymnasium classes.
At its Nov. 14 school board meeting, the board approved the resignation of high school special education teacher Melissa Valenta.
At its Oct. 10 meeting, the Nebraska City school board approved the addition of a full-time special education position beginning this month. Kent Blum said the position would help fill the need of the special education department created by the inability to fill seven open special education para positions.
A teacher was hired in December for sixth grade special education.
The mother of the student reported the school told her the life skills program might be terminated, but later informed her that her child could return to class in January. She told NCN that she is reluctant for her child to return to the school. She believes one of the paras named by her son in Ofc. Fertig's interview has not been excluded from the program.
Fritch released a second statement later in the day Tuesday.