• Superintendent defends the way district communicated about ex-substitute's molestation allegations

    By: Jason Kelly , Cierra Putman

    Updated:

    OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - During a news conference Friday afternoon, Osceola County Superintendent Debra Pace defended the way the school district notified parents about allegations that a substitute teacher molested at least six students.

    Deputies said Syed Yasseen-Asher, 19, was charged with nine counts of lewd or lascivious molestation involving six female students at Boggy Creek Elementary School.

    Investigators said Yasseen-Asher admitted to touching girls at three of the nine schools at which he taught.


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    Pace said the school district first learned of his arrest on Feb. 28 and that it notified parents of Boggy Creek Elementary School students March 1.

    She said the Osceola County Sheriff's Office told the district that only investigators would know the identities of and interact with victims.

    Pace said she learned Tuesday that Yasseen-Asher admitted to touching children at Flora Ridge and Mill Creek elementary schools.

    Osceola County Sheriff Russ Gibson told Channel 9 on Thursday that investigators notified the district March 1 that there were possible victims at other schools.


    Watch Channel 9's Cierra Putman question Osceola County Superintendent Debra Pace below:


    Later that day, the district said Yasseen-Asher taught at nine schools.

    Through public records requests, Channel 9 learned Thursday that he taught more than 1,100 students from December to February.

    Channel 9's Cierra Putman asked Pace on Friday why parents were not notified sooner.

    "Why did you wait? Why didn't you tell all the schools?" Putman said.

    Read: Sheriff: Substitute teacher who admitted to molesting students could have more victims

    "We were cooperating with law enforcement at that time," Pace said.

    "So the Sheriff's Office told you not to let parents know about this man?" Putman said.

    "We were cooperating with law enforcement at that time," Pace said.

    The district had been telling Channel 9 since Tuesday that it would call the parents or guardians of each child whom Yasseen-Asher taught.

    Read: Substitute teacher admits to molesting Osceola County students at multiple schools, detective says

    Channel 9 learned Friday that that did not happen.

    "For the two elementary schools where this gentleman taught block classes and also at our two middle schools, the sheer number of students that had contact with this individual prevented us from doing additional individual calls," Pace said.

    The district said it had directly called more than 200 parents and guardians by Tuesday.

    School officials have called several hundred more parents since then, the district said.

    Read: ‘Did anybody touch you?’: Parents concerned after 6 girls accuse substitute teacher of molestation

    The aunt of one of the alleged victim's told Channel 9 on Thursday that her 6-year-old niece's parents never received a call from the school.

    "That is just insane," said the aunt, who asked to not be identified. "Someone should have been working through the weekend to contact all of these families."

    Putman asked Pace if the district would post details of Yasseen-Asher's employment to its website.


    Watch Osceola County Superintendent Debra Pace give an update on the ex-substitute below:


    "We requested the students classes and their grades, and we put that on our website. Is the district doing that? And if not, why not?" Putman said.

    "You guys have done that for us," Pace said.

    Yasseen-Asher's personnel file said he requested in a job application to work with younger students.

    The file said he had also worked as an assistant teacher at Kissimmee's Islamic Center of Osceola County.

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