Elementary students in the Springboro school district will soon be learning how to recognize, avoid and react to child abuse.
A district spokesman said the new curriculum was created before sex abuse allegations against a former elementary school teacher teacher and the aftermath came to light earlier this year.
However he acknowledged surveys, to be filled out by Clearcreek students and their parents, are being developed as the district tries to respond to parental concerns.
“What can we do more, knowing what had just transpired?” Scott Marshall, the district’s communications coordinator, said Wednesday.
The surveys and curriculum addition follow the indictment of former gym teacher John Austin Hopkins on sex-abuse charges involving 28 girls in his 1st grade classes last year.
The charges were the result of investigation of incidents involving 88 girls in Hopkins’ classes at Clearcreek Elementary and criticism by a group of parents who have hired a lawyer.
In a TV interview aired Wednesday night on News Center 7, Springboro parents who had children in Hopkins classroom told WHIO-TV Anchor Molly Koweek they are concerned with the district’s action.
“It just hurts,” a mother told Koweek. “When you are trusting your children daily in their hands.”’
Hopkins, 25, of Springboro, was indicted on 36 counts of gross sexual imposition in Warren County Common Pleas Court. He has pled not guilty and remains free on house arrest, while lawyers on both sides fight over evidence in the case, including hours of surveillance video from his classroom.
The new curriculum will be based on “Child Safety Matters, a comprehensive, evidence-based curriculum for elementary school students in grades K-5. The program educates and empowers children and all relevant adults with information and strategies to prevent, recognize, and respond appropriately to bullying, cyberbullying, all types of abuse, and digital abuse dangers,” according to the Monique Burr Foundation for Children.
The new curriculum will not be taught to pre-kindergarten students at Clearcreek Elementary, but will be rolled out to all K-5th graders attending Clearcreek, Five Points and Dennis elementary schools, Marshall said.
Marshall said the surveys were designed to give students and parents a chance to weigh in on how the past six months at school went academically, emotionally and socially.
“The idea behind it is it is filled out as a family,” he said.
Marshall also said the district has been “absolutely transparent” in response to parent’s concerns.
He pointed to a letter in April sent to Clearcreek parents about Hopkins and how the district was responding.
But for some Springboro parents, the district has not done enough.
“We’re getting met with resistance at every turn,” a father told Koweek.
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