NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – Several parents are holding on to their little ones a little tighter.
“You’re putting your child in their hands and then for something like that to happen, whether it happened or not we don’t know yet, but it’s really sad,” says mother and grandmother Lois Berry.
“You shouldn’t have to worry if you’re at work and your kids are at school, a fall or something like that, but something of this nature you never expect to hear that,” says mother and grandmother Caroline Turner.
The Mahalia Jackson Elementary School community is on edge as the NOPD investigates allegations that one of their students was sexually assaulted on campus. The alleged rape happened to a 7-year-old boy, a first grader, during PE class last week.
School administrators tell WGNO News that the mother of the child notified the principal of the attack Monday and the substitute teacher in question has been told not to return pending the outcome of the investigation.
Assistant School Superintendent Armand Devezin says, “This allegation is an unfortunate one. It certainly is never, never expected, however in our environment, in the world today, these kinds of things do unfortunately happen.”
Interim Superintendent of the Orleans Parish School Board Stan Smith says, “Someone, you know, 7-years-old, they look to us as adults with innocence to take care of them and when there’s a failure in that process then it impacts all of us.”
So far extra counselors have been called in to assist the Central City school, and parents have been warned through a message saying:
This is Principal London with an important message.
“There is currently an investigation of an alleged assault to a student on campus. We are working closely with Orleans Parish School Board administration, as well as, the New Orleans Police Department. Please be assured that the safety of our students is top priority and the instructional program is proceeding as normal. If you have any questions, kindly contact the school.”
The substitute teacher that is being investigated has not been arrested. Administrators tell us he was hired in October. They stress a background check did not reveal any red flags.