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New Orleans Charter School Admin Arrested for Failure to Report Sexual Incident

October 4, 2017

It baffled me when I read that administration at a New Orleans charter school, Success Preparatory Academy, failed to immediately alert police regarding a cell phone video of a sexual incident that happened on campus in April 2017.

School admin are mandated reporters of sexual abuse.

However, what really sealed the deal for the two administrators arrested is their apparent ignorance that deleting the video from a student’s phone constitutes destroying evidence, and emailing the video– one that falls under the definition of child pornography– to oneself and to another administrator– constitutes possession of child pornography.

Bu there is more:

When made aware of the incident, the principal of the school also failed to report it to the police, and he publicly defends the failure to report the incident to police as well as the decision of the other admin to delete the video from the student’s phone; return that phone to the student, and email the pornographic video to herself and another admin.

As the October 04, 2017, New Orleans Advocate reports:

Two members of the leadership team at a charter school in Treme were arrested Tuesday on allegations they failed to alert authorities about their discovery of video clips allegedly showing a student being forced to perform oral sex on a group of her peers in a bathroom on campus earlier this year. …

New Orleans police booked Nicole Kusmirek, the second-in-command at Success Preparatory Academy, and Shayla Shane — listed as the school’s director of culture — on counts of possessing child pornography as well as failing to report child abuse despite being required to do so as educators. …

Success Principal Niloy Gangopadhyay said in a statement Wednesday that his school stands behind both Kusmirek and Shane and he doesn’t believe there was any “criminal intent or action on their part.”

“In our opinion, they took appropriate action and protected the interests of our school and the safety of those students,” Gangopadhyay said, adding that an internal investigation found no violations of procedure.

Both Kusmirek and Shane posted bail on Tuesday, October 03, 2017, after turning themselves in and being in custody for several hours.

In this situation, it was the mother of the student “forced to perform” who initiated contact with the police two days following the incident.

According to the Advocate, all three administrators (Gangopadhyay, Kusmirek, and Shane) hail from Teach for America. As administrators of a K-8 Louisiana school, all should have been well aware that they are mandated reporters of “the involvement of the child in any sexual act with… any other person… or the aiding of the child’s involvement in any sexual act with any other person [or] …pornographic displays.”

nihoy gangopadhyay  Niloy Gangopadhyay

The link above is for Louisiana’s Department of Children and Family Services and includes a link for online completion of the mandated reporting form as well as a 24-hour hotline for reporting abuse.

Only Kusmirek appears to have a teaching certificate on file with the Louisiana Department of Education. Shane might have one under another name. However, there is no certificate on file for “Shayla Shane.” (Click here for Shane’s Linkedin bio.)

According to the Louisiana teacher certification search engine, Niloy Gangopadhyay does not hold (and has never held) a Louisiana teaching or administrative certificate.

ncole-kusmirek-shayla-shane.jpg  Shayla Shane and Nicole Kusmirek


Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

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  1. As for the principal, there is only one Gangopadhyay recorded w the state as ever having taught. The name is Gargi Zinia Gangopadhyay who was alternatively certified by The New Teacher Project in 2010 but whose alt certification is no longer valid as per 2014. Why a different name from certification?

    • Might be his wife.

    • Jack Covey permalink

      Oh and here’s some more news coverage video, which includes an interview with Shane’s and Kusmirek’s attorney, who (IMHO) doesn’t come off as the sharpest knife in the drawer. She needs to brush up on her grammar, for one.

      She calls the prosecution “overkill”, but doesn’t say exactly why:

      x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x
      ATTORNEY CAMPBELL: “They (Campbell’s clients Kusmirek & Shane) know that they are mandatory reporters. They understand their duty, uhmm … and that they didn’t believe that there was a reason for them to report it to law enforcement, or to child services.”
      x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

      Hey Campbell, did you get your law degree out of a Crackerjack box?

      Those two statements you just made on camera:

      “”They (Campbell’s clients Kusmirek & Shane) know that they are mandatory reporters. They understand their duty … ”


      ” … they (Campbell’s clients Kusmirek & Shane) didn’t believe that their was a reason for them to report it to law enforcement, or to child services.”

      … are totally contradictory. As any mandated reporter or law enforcement personnel knows, ONCE YOU FIND OUT ABOUT OR WITNESS EVIDENCE, YOU HAVE NO DISCRETION WHERE YOU CAN DECIDE FOR YOURSELF NOT TO REPORT IT TO POLICE.

      Legal analyst Joe Raspanti then sets Attorney Campbell straight:

      x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x
      JOE RASPANTI: “Anybody who sees something like that (a video of 8th grade girl being forced into oral sex) has a legal duty to report it, and if you don’t report it, it’s a crime.”
      x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

      Playing for sympathy, Campbell then blathers about how this situation is negatively impacting her clients’ and their careers in education. Why, this could “ruin their careers.” Doncha know?

      Campbell then claims:

      x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x
      ATTORNEY CAMPBELL: “There was (sic) opportunities for them (prosecutors) to kinda push back and say, ‘Let’s discuss it.’ (i.e. devise a way to not charge/arrest Kusmirek & Shane). And they (prosecutors) were NOT open to having that conversation.”
      x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

      The real victim in this case doesn’t rate a mention, apparently.

      Excuse me, but what about that 8th Grade girl (aged 12-14, depending on her birthday)? who was forced to perform oral sex on three boys while it was videotaped? It’s just a hunch, but she may have been a little negatively impacted as well.

      • Jack Covey permalink

        A scan of the letter home to parents from the school is included in this link:

        That letter has the administration throwing their full support behind Kusmirek and Shayne, even complimenting them (???!!!) on their handling of the matter — mind you, this is AFTER THOSE SAME TEACHERS HAVE BEEN ARRESTED AND CHARGED, a decision that has been six months in the making. The letter also includes a mention of how the school’s internal investigation cleared those teachers of wrong-doing.

        How on Earth can they make such a ridiculous conclusion?

        Apparently, the bosses of this school don’t feel that Louisiana’s mandatory reporting laws applies to their school, or to its personnel.

        However, as the following TV news coverage shows, the parents who received this letter are not so supportive:

        x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

        “Parents told Eyewitness News that they’re glad the teachers are now facing consequences for their actions.

        ” ‘They need to be arrested, some kind of punishment needs to be done,’ (parent Tracey) Williams said.”
        x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

  2. annat permalink

    Yes, they “protected the interests of the school” by burying the incident. How disgusting. Does the 5 weeks of summer training for TFAers not include mandated reporting??? It’s Education 101. This is why charter schools need to be done.

  3. Jack Covey permalink

    This whole situation bears a striking resemblance to an incident that took place is San Jose, California at one of Mark Zuckerberg’s SUMMIT CHARTER SCHOOLS.

    In the Louisiana case discussed above, one thing that I noticed that is similar to the California case is how young the “administrators” are. For example, Ms. Shane graduated college (Fisk University) in 2012, so that puts her in the range of 26-27 years old, with no Doctorate, or even A Master’s Degree in Administration. All she has is that lame 5-week summer course for all TFA teachers. This is the Doogie Howser-ization of charter school administration, or the Bugsy Malone-ization, if you will. It’s highly likely that if Ms. Shane and the others had attained a grad degree in school administration, she and the others would never have acted this way.

    Also, just as in the case of above, the school’s principal-equivalent (Executive Director) in the Summit Charter School fiasco in San Jose — Nicholas Kim — is also a TFA Corps Member under 30 years of age.

    I posted a zillion words about the San Jose Summit Charter Schools “Rape-gate” over at the Ravitch blog. Just go to this link (BELOW), and see what I wrote, complete with links. Those relevant posts are about half-way through the COMMENTS section:

    (I don’t want to clutter up this blog by re-posting the whole story here again, but boy, check it out; it’s quite a yarn!)

    Unlike the situation above in Louisiana, the California authorities did not prosecute or even arrest the San Jose Summit Tahoma Charter School administrators for engaging in the same kind of cover-up and failure to fulfill duties as a mandatory reporter. (I’m wondering if Mr. and Mrs. Z. pulled some strings of some kind, or perhaps if someone else did. As my posts over on the Ravitch blog detail, the Summit Board of Directors is filled with some prominent movers and shakers in Silicon Valley.)

    However, the parents of the alleged victim in the San Jose DID file a major lawsuit. It looks like any attempt to settle has failed, and it’s now in the discovery phase. Here’s a link to the latest:

    (I presume that “N..V.” are the initials of Drew’s victims in the case titled:

    “N.V. vs. Summit Public Schools et al”)

    I got a little more to say on this Summit Charter School Rape-gate.

    I spoke with an attorney friend about this, and he shared his opinions and speculations.

    The story broke in the news in February 2016, but the lawsuit wasn’t filed until November 2016.

    Therefore, it’s almost certain that the victim’s family and Summit Charter Schools, Inc. both lawyered up and attempted a settlement of some kind during that time period of February-thru-November 2016.

    Indeed, it’s in Summit’s interest to put this baby to bed and settle this, to avoid any further publicity, and prevent more public details of this whole thing from leaking out in lawsuit filings, depositions, and trial testimony, which in California would be videotaped and available to the media and to the public (a la the Vergara hearings.), and posted on the internet.

    Furthermore, anything which that numbskull Principal (Executive Director) Nicholas Kim said under oath could open him up to criminal charges in the molestation case, and to perjury charges, should he perjure himself. The same goes for any and all of the Summit officials who told Kim to cover the whole thing up.

    Well, apparently, the two parties could not arrive at a mutually agreeable dollar amount to effect such a settlement, so Summit is preparing to go for a full-on scorched earth strategy, and engage in a no-holds-barred legal battle against the victim and her family.

    Perhaps Summit’s final offer may have been … say … $100,000, but the victim’s parents wanted a minimum of … say … $1,000,000 and neither side would budge.

    By the way, this is all guess work. Summit may have offered $ 00.00, and the victim’s parents may have asked for $10 million. Who knows? What we DO know is that both sides could not reach a settlement, and are now prepared to take this all the way to trial, as they are both well on the way to do so.

    Since they haven’t settled by now, my lawyer friend insists, this could get particularly ugly. As this link BELOW shows, the two sides are already duking it out over procedural matters:

    For example, Summit’s legal team could claim the underaged victim was some kind of deliberately seductive Lolita, a brazen nymphette who mesmerized and hypnotized the teacher into participating in the affair. They could dig up other students to testify to her sexual history in a sort of “She was already a slut, anyway, so she didn’t suffer THAT much” strategy to get a jury to not find anyone at Summit liable, or if they did find Summit liable, lessen the dollar amount of the award. This is a common and despicable strategy that school districts engage in.

    Summit also has the Santa Clara County D.A. on their side, who incredibly declined to prosecute Principal Nicholas Kim for not following his mandatory reporting legal requirements. I’m still gobsmacked by that one.

    It’s quite possible that prosecutors the state level could still over-rule the Santa Clara County D.A.’s decision not to criminally prosecute Kim and Summit, and take over the case, then put all the evidence in front of a grand jury to see if they could get indictments against Kim and Summit.

    If enough public pressure is brought to bear, this very well may happen.

    Summit likely has already spend a mid-six-figure amount so far in legal fees. Should this go all the way to trial, Summit’s lawyers will rack up a good $1-2 million in bill-able hours … at least. They obviously think — or their money-motivated lawyers are influencing them to think — that they can win at trial, or that going to trial will be the least expensive course of action.

    Furthermore, their insurance carrier could be pushing them to take this course of action, to minimize the dollar amount the insurance company pays out. (which they may believe would be for far more than the $1-2 million in legal costs to fight it out in civil court.)

    = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
    (That’s if the Summit Charter Schools organizations actually HAS an insurance carrier. If not, they could really be in financial jeopardy… and explain their go-for-broke strategy of not settling, and putting this in front of a jury.

    … but hey, maybe Chan and Zuckerberg could pony up the cash for any future civil settlement and Summit’s legal fees. Those two idiots are used to wasting insane amounts of money on corporate ed reform folly.

    Witness their $100 million hare-brained attempt to (COUGH! COUGH!) … uhh… reform the schools of Newark, New Jersey. Mr. and Mrs. Z, blew all that money, and none of it got to the classroom. None of it was spend on … say … class size reduction, school psychologists, arts programs, music programs, college counselors.

    Naah, most of it was vacuumed up by huckster “educational consultants” who didn’t contribute a damn thing to the students of Newark, New Jersey. Those two ass-clown educational amateurs — Mr. and Mrs. Z, I mean — make mega-ditz corporate puppet Cami Anderson look brilliant by comparison.

    A good book was written about this Newark fiasco by someone who was an embedded observer of the whole reform-Newark fiasco. Its name escapes me at the moment.
    = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

  4. Jack Covey permalink

    One other thing …

    According to this page:

    Ms. Kusmirek graduated from college in 2007, but became the school’s Co-Director (Principal or Co-Principal) in Fall 2006 — again, at the ripe old age of 30 or 31, and without having to obtain a Master’s or Doctorate in School Administration, as she would have been in the public school system.

    Again, had Ms. Kusmirek been properly trained by and been required to obtain a second degree in administration — as administrators are in the much-maligned public school system — she very likely would not have made these bone-headed moves that got her arrested and prosecuted.

  5. Reblogged this on David R. Taylor-Thoughts on Education and commented:
    This story brings up another issue. In 2011, as a Principal, I sat with my Diagnostician while she called Child Protective Services in the State of Texas. As she hung up the phone, her computer beeped, it was an email from CPS indicating they were closing the case and not conducting any further investigations.

    Yet we want to arrest educators for not reporting. It is time there is a complementary law that says “If an educator reports a suspected case, then CPS must conduct an active investigation”. They should not be allowed to close the case without “due diligence”.

    What the administrators in this case did was wrong but I really have a problem with it being criminal.

  6. Jack Covey permalink

    I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this repeated problem of young, untrained, and woefully incompetent charter school administrators and teachers failing to do their duties as mandated reporters.

    The honchos over at Success Preparatory Charter School are defiantly standing by their teachers — even after a detailed, six-month investigation culminated in them being charged for the major crimes of child pornography, and failing to report a sexual crime against a child.

    It’s almost as if these charter corporations think of themselves as being a law unto themselves, a state within that state that can brazenly defy the law with no consequences.

    What gives?

    What I’ve concluded is that it all boils down to their allegiance. To whom or to what do school administrators — in contrast to public school administrators/teachers owe their first and primary allegiance?

    Who calls the shots?

    The government which funds and oversees the schools?

    The School District / private charter school corporation?

    The teachers’ union? (NOTE: most charters have no union, or a toothless company union).

    To better understand this, it would be great if everyone could watch LAUSD’s mandatory on-line class video and take the mandatory test teachers must take TWICE a year — the on-line class and test that inculcates traditional public school teachers with a comprehensive and detailed grasp mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse.

    (Did I use the word “mandatory” enough times? 😉 )

    Oh yeah, and teachers don’t get paid a nickel for this. (You do get to print out a really cool certificate with your name on it, though. 😉 I wouldn’t post it on your wall, however.)

    Having taken both the class and the test countless times, what strikes me now is how much LAUSD drills into teachers heads the notion that, in the realm of suspected child abuse, THE GOVERNMENT AND ITS LAWS ARE SUPREME, that the LAUSD School District is utterly subservient to the state of California, and that’s how it should be. (But alas, that’s not how it is with privately managed charter schools, as these notorious cases make painfully obvious)

    If you’re an LAUSD teacher, your boss’s and administrator’s authority and power must totally give way to the state. To further underscore that point, if a teacher fails to take the on-line class, and then pass the test, they are barred from setting foot in classroom until they do so. The same goes for administrators.

    Furthermore, LAUSD Child Abuse Reporting training video also pounds into your head how the LAUSD School Police are NOT—- repeat NOT — real police, and that they should be by-passed when you have evidence or a suspicion to be reported.

    By the way, the union concurs totally with the district on this manner, and has communicated the message that anyone who abrogates their duty as a mandated reporter should not look to the union for help in defending one’s self. That’s as it should be, in my opinion.

    The video and the test also presents countless scenarios — hypothetical, but most are based on actual occurrences — and the teacher must answer as to how to properly and legally respond and act in all of those situations.

    *Don’t investigate on your own.*

    *Don’t try to engage in any mental gymnastics or rationalization that will lead you to justify not reporting something.*

    *Don’t try to talk to an administrator, or a higher up-administrator in the hopes that he/she will back up your decision not to report.*

    … and on it goes …

    Instead, you must *PICK UP THE DAMN PHONE AND CALL THE POLICE*, or *DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES* (who will then call the police). You must do that *IMMEDIATELY* or as soon as possible. You can choose to inform the administrators later, or not, if you so choose.

    At that point, you also have a 36-hour clock that starts ticking, by which time you must fill out and drop off a SCAR (Suspected Child Abuse Report.) at a DCFS office. As with immediate reporting, failure to do so will lead to you losing your credential / license to teach.

    Following the laws of the state regarding mandatory reporting truly puts children first.

    Again, this is the District ceding power to the state. (unlike the folks in charge of privately managed and money-motivated charter school corporations, who boldly resist doing so… as these recent cases show.)

    One more thing, the on-line class tells you that the district will pay for lawyers to defend you, should you be sued later for making a *truthful* report. (I emphasize the word *truthful* here, as should it be later proven that what you reported wasn’t truthful, and deliberately so, the false accuser should face the wrath of his / her victim both with criminal penalties, and in a civil court financial award, but that’s another story.)

    Now, the whole corporate ed reform and school privatization industry claims that they are the ones who “put children first.” However, this is one instance where they do not.

    Charter schools do not want to be told how they teach — or even be required that they must teach — mandatory reporting to their administrators and teachers. They say to the respective school districts:

    *”Butt out, and let us do it our way. We need such freedom from such bureaucratic shackles.”*

    Yeah, right. That’s worked out so great in San Jose an Baton Rouge.

    This means, of course, that very often, none of the charter school teachers or administrators are trained in mandatory child abuse reporting.

    Perhaps that’s because those running privately-managed charter schools want to cheap out and not provide this training. It may also be so that they can have the leeway to handle child abuse in a way that benefits the school at the expense of child victims of abuse.

    Now, if you combine this with the non-union status of faculty — where faculty and administrator are in utter fear of the charter school management, and scared to death that they can be fired for whatever reason, or for no reason — and you have a recipe for disaster.

    Unlike the traditional public school teachers and administrators, the charter school folks have not had such intensive training in mandatory reporting — i.e. such as the training that LAUSD demands of its teachers.

    If an LAUSD teacher becomes is aware of evidence, or even a rumor, their first move is always…

    *”For the good of the child, I must contact authorities PERIOD. … (and for those less morally evolved) … if I don’t, I’m toast!”*

    (With the repeated training, this almost functions as an instinct by this point.)

    However, in the charter sector, the teacher or administrator’s reaction is …

    *”Oh sh#%! I better be careful in how I handle this. I don’t want to get fired. I better talk the principal first* (or Executive Director, as they like to give business names to the boss… it’s a business, you know) *and ask him/her what I should do next.”*

    Then, once informed, the charter school administrator’s primary allegiance in NOT — Repeat NOT — to the state. The corporation’s handling of the situation to the corporation is based on cynical motives. Those running the corporation make a decision that is not *KIDS FIRST*-based, but instead, is based on what’s good, both for the charter school’s bottom line and for the charter school’s reputation. If that means covering it up, and not informing the state, then that’s what they’re going to do. If everybody clams up — including student victims and their parents — then they can hopefully just ride this out without the police or prosecutors or the general public becoming any the wiser.

    To put it another way, if charter bosses approaching this from a bottom line perspective means that a known perv teacher guilty of child abuse (Summit San Jose), or perv student assailants guilty of sexual assault (Baton Rough charter school Success Preparatory Academy) never face the police and prosecutors, well, then Baby, that’s how it’s gotta be.

    If that means more abuse occurs, then well, that’s just necessary, if unfortunate collateral damage (i.e. Jerry Sandusky at PENN STATE.)

    In both the San Jose Summit Charter School case, and with this latest one in Louisiana, this is what happened. They faced millions of dollars in civil damages from parents, and untold damage in PR if it’s discovered that one of their teachers is sexually abusing students.

    Better to cover it up.

    This is why you have this defiant attitude on the part of the school and its idiot lawyer. For the last several days, they have been vomiting up the same nonsense — “We fully stand by our teacher and administrator. They acted in a way that was totally legal and proper.”

    Yeah, then why are they in those mugshots?

    It’s a risky strategy. If charter school administrators do successfully bury the whole incident, and law enforcement and the general public never finds out, then, in a fiduciary sense, you’ve done what’s best for the school’s bottom line, and for the school’s reputation.

    Job well done!

    However, if the truth of the sexual crime (or whatever abuse) does come out later, and it also comes out that the charter school administrators attempted to hide it — again to protect the school’s financial bottom line, and the school’s reputation — then the criminal and civil penalties are going to be several times more costly — both financially and in terms of the school’s reputation — than it would have, had the charter school bosses followed the protocols set forth in, for example, LAUSD’s on-line child abuse training.

    That’s what happened in Summit’s San Jose franchise (Summit Tahoma Charter School) and in the school in Louisiana. In both instances, the advice that the charter schools’ lawyers gave the respective bosses and on-site administrators was colossally stupid.

    Summit Charter Tahoma’s Principal Nicholas Kim, on orders from his boss and advice from lawyers, ACTUALLY BARGED INTO A POLICE INTERVIEW AND ORDERED THE POLICE TO STOP AND LEAVE THE SCHOOL???!!

    The fact that this idiot — and those above Kim advising him to do so (except the lawyers) — have not been prosecuted for this is mind-blowing. Hopefully, public pressure at the state level will lead state prosecutors to take over the case and do so.

    Think about it. Months earlier, Kim claimed that he conducted his own investigation (???!!!) and concluded that all was well, and that no crime was committed. That asinine move led to the victim being subjected to months more of being raped.

    *Way to go, Executive Director Kim! Zack got to rape “N.V.” for a few extra months, thanks to you!*

    The rumor that I was told at the 2016 NEA – RA annual teacher convention was that Kim and the rapist, Zachary Drew were close friends, and that was part of why Kim acted the way he did, and that Kim allegedly pressured the rape victim to clam up, while playing on her sympathies — *”You don’t want Mr. Drew to go to jail, now, do you? You don’t want to ruin his life now. Do you?”*

    This obscene tactic was successful for months, until a parent (whose child was not involved) got wind of the situation, and, disgusted with Kim’s behavior, went to the police and got them did what they do best — they got to the truth of the matter.

    Kim has and, at the time, had no advanced degree in school administration, nor any administrative license. Had he acquired these, it’s likely that he never would have handled things this way.

    Well, Kim’s going to soon be facing music, both in the initial deposition that’s coming up, and in the trial itself. Later this year or early next year, Kim’s going to be grilled (under oath and penalty of perjury) by B. Robert Allard, one of the top lawyers in the country who represents victims of child abuse at the hands of teachers, and who regularly gets multi-million-dollar settlements for the children and parents for whom he represents.

    I wouldn’t want to be in Kim’s shoes being questioned by that guy, let me tell you that!

    Here’s the latest on that:

    What’s interesting is that Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is partially in charge of the Summit Charter School’s, and could make this all go away just by using the commensurate change in his back pocket, but Summit is advising its lawyers to fight it to the bitter end — no settlement.

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