Shreveport alternative charter school director, 2 others arreste - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Charter school changes how it handles criminal accusations

AMIkids-Caddo is an alternative charter middle school on Hutchinson St. in Shreveport. (Source: KSLA News 12) AMIkids-Caddo is an alternative charter middle school on Hutchinson St. in Shreveport. (Source: KSLA News 12)
Tara Taylor (Source: Shreveport Police Department) Tara Taylor (Source: Shreveport Police Department)
Jamile Emile (Source: Shreveport Police Department) Jamile Emile (Source: Shreveport Police Department)
Mitchell Steiner (Source: Shreveport Police Department) Mitchell Steiner (Source: Shreveport Police Department)

Questions about what's next are being raised in the wake of the arrests of the principal and 2 other employees of a new alternative charter school in Shreveport earlier this month.

AMIkids Executive Director Tara Taylor, fellow administrator Jamile Emile and Mitchell Steiner were arrested Oct. 20 for allegedly failing to report a possible sexual assault on campus to police. AMIkids board member Ted Cox said all 3 are on paid administrative leave.

AMIkids board member Ted Cox said a student at the school informed school leaders that she was sexually assaulted on the Hutchinson Street campus, but no one contacted police. 

Educators are considered mandatory reporters. By law, they’re required to contact police if a student comes to them with allegations of sexual assault.

AMIkids CEO O.B. Standard, of Tampa, Fla., met with AMIkids board members the morning of Nov. 1.

They discussed getting proper leadership in place as soon as possible.

Cox said their intent was to get "the ship going straight because the school is so important." 

Greg Kleinpeter, state director of AMIkids, has come up from Baton Rouge to be in house at AMIkids-Shreveport to run things for now.

Cox said he has no specifics on a timeline to get an interim or new director in place. 

Meantime, school officials are conducting an internal investigation but also are compelled to wait and get more information from the police investigation, said Shawn Vercher, AMIkids' national spokeswoman.

She said they assured parents that the 2 teens accused of inappropriately touching a young female have been removed from campus and arrested and that the alleged victim has returned to school. 

In addition to in-house counseling for students, Vercher said, police have come to the school since the alleged assault to have extra conversations with the student body to convey the serious consequences of poor choices. 

Out of abundance of caution, she added, AMIkids has changed internal guidelines when it comes to handling any accusations from students involving anything potentially criminal in nature.

Instead of attempting to preliminarily track down all parties involved to conduct their own initial investigation, Vercher said, school officials instead will immediately contact police. "We will report everything, no matter what". 

As for the accusation against the 3 AMI employees, she said: "Obviously, we are taking it extremely seriously."

Vercher added that they are waiting to find out exactly what happened.

She said the AMIkids corporate office was told AMIkids-Shreveport was "conducting an investigation and had every intention to report."
Caddo Parish schools have a working agreement with AMIkids to take in students who have been expelled from Caddo schools. 

The AMIkids charter school was approved by the Caddo School Board in May 2015. The board approved its charter agreement with AMI and its board in June 2016 to open in fall 2016.

As a Type i charter under Louisiana law, AMIkids is overseen by a separate volunteer school board and a charter management organization, which in this case is AMIkids – a Florida-based organization that specializes in working with at-risk youths.

Under Louisiana law, Caddo does not have the ability to select or terminate personnel at AMIkids nor interfere in day-to-day operations of the campus.

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