“The School Board’s expectation is that the district takes any allegation of abuse and sexual misconduct seriously and fully investigates any allegation,” said Pete Miller, the board’s president, in a written statement to InvestigateWest.
But Tahoma parent Heidi Padilla wants to see administrators put these promises into action before her faith in the district will be restored. Padilla said she has approached administrators several times with concerns about her own children’s safety but feels her concerns were dismissed.
“They do not take any report seriously,” she said. “Because if you took the report seriously, then it would have stopped when that staff member spoke up years ago with Bryan Neyers.”
A few days before the school board’s email went out, Tahoma parent Amanda Gates emailed Hanson and the school board urging them to take “immediate and decisive action” to protect student safety, citing InvestigateWest’s reporting. She called for the firing of administrators who failed to properly investigate complaints about Neyers and for a review of district policies relating to staff conduct.
Gates met with district leadership to discuss her concerns. In a joint email response after the meeting, Garcia and Gates told InvestigateWest that everyone “left with a shared understanding that Amanda’s concerns were heard” and that Gates “is confident in District leadership to move forward in its decision-making to do what we believe is in the best interest of every student, family and our staff.”
Christie and other parents, however, continue to worry about their children’s safety.
“Our kids know. They know the destruction that was caused by Bryan. And there’s no amount of money that’s ever going to change that,” Christie said. “The fact that nobody lost their jobs over this and all they had to do was training really calls into question how much they truly care about the children in this school district.”
InvestigateWest (invw.org) is an independent news nonprofit dedicated to investigative journalism in the Pacific Northwest. Reporter Kelsey Turner can be reached at email@example.com.