Parent Confronts Natrona School Board About Indecent Exposure Incident
The principal of Park Elementary knew an alleged pedophile had been near the school, but did not warn parents, teachers and students before he approached a girl last week and was arrested, her mother told the Natrona County School District board of trustees on Monday.
"I am appalled that the parents of Park School were not notified of someone hanging out in our neighborhood doing these things; somebody who told the police he fantasized about abducting children," Amanda Huckabay said.
"That could have been my daughter had she not been prepared because I made sure to do so," Huckabay said. "I'm also a little frustrated why the school district has not disseminated this information to parents, that someone was hanging out at the bus hub masturbating, and that affects more than just Park students."
Huckabay's testimony stunned trustees, none of whom had heard the personal back story about Brenden Day's arrest on April 18.
The back story began when her daughter was walking home from the school and saw Day approach her while he was masturbating. Day then chased her, Huckabay said.
Her terrified daughter called her from home, said Huckabay, who then called police. Her daughter's description lead to Day's arrest. Later, her daughter positively identified him at the police station.
"The detective later that day called me that evening and said they have been trying to catch this person for several months and were unable to do so until my daughter's description," she said.
On April 19, Day pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of public indecency and child endangerment. His bond was set at $2,500 and he was in custody on Saturday, according to the county jail's inmate roster.
That didn't end Huckabay's concerns.
The next morning, she told her daughter's teachers about the incident, she said. "Neither of her teachers were aware that there was somebody in our neighborhood behaving this way."
She then talked to Park Elementary Principal Dawn DeWald.
DeWald told Huckabay a police officer had informed her before last Monday about someone exposing himself near the school. DeWald also knew that person had been in nearby City Park where hundreds of students transfer buses mornings and afternoons.
Huckabay then recounted when she was a first-grade student at Garfield Elementary in 1988. A school official told students about a suspicious person in the neighborhood and how to respond: have a buddy when they walked home, stay alert, and run if approached, she said.
Huckabay suggested DeWald take a similar action, she said. But DeWald responded saying some parents were uncomfortable talking about pedophiles, she said.
DeWald did not have a listed telephone number and could not be reached for comment.
Huckabay told trustees she understands parents hold different views about raising their children, but educators still have the responsibility to keep their children safe.
None of the trustees responded to her story during the meeting.
But afterwards, most trustees and Superintendent Steve Hopkins thanked her for her comments. They vowed to look into her allegations and to consider a district-wide policy to alert students, parents, teachers and the public about possible sexual predators.
Board Chairman Kevin Christopherson said there are programs available about keeping students safe.
When asked if there were any district policies to deal with potential pedophiles, Christopherson said, "you're talking to the wrong guy, I don't know the policies of the school district."
He referred questions to Hopkins, who said district attorney Kathleen Dixon advised him to not comment on the specific incident or policy changes until district officials could investigate and talk to DeWald.
Student safety is the district's top priority, Hopkins said. "We do extensive training among all staff members every year to keep students safe."