ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — A grand jury said it found that the Orange County school district failed to tell police about sex crimes involving children.
It’s one of several accusations made in a state report on school safety following the deadly Parkland school shooting in 2018.
In a section of the report, the grand jury pointed to the Apopka schools within the district, saying they tried to suppress reports for serious crimes while also hindering law enforcement investigations.
The state Department of Education said in a letter last week that it wants to meet in person with the Orange County School Board to discuss the findings.
A spokesperson for the district said no one there has been contacted about setting up a meeting so far.
The grand jury report accused Apopka schools of “making concerted efforts not only to suppress reporting of serious incidents -- but also hamper police investigations.”
One example from 2018 was when Apopka High School students attacked a school resource officer.
The grand jury said police wanted the students involved kicked out of school, but the district didn’t listen.
Later that year, one of the teens from that fight brought a gun to school and was involved in a shooting.
The report also claims the Department of Children and Families reported to police that an elementary student took a disabled female child into a bathroom and molested her, despite the school being told the perpetrator was not to be left unsupervised due to prior issues.
“It was disappointing to see our Apopka schools mentioned in the grand jury report because we have worked tirelessly, over the last several years, with our law enforcement partners to ensure our schools are as safe as possible,” Orange County Public Schools Vice Chair Melissa Byrd said in a statement.
She said Apopka Police Chief Michael McKinley has frequently ensured her schools are reporting serious incidents to school resource officers immediately.
The report says things got so bad in 2016 that the Apopka police chief wrote a letter to the school board citing incidents of sex crimes between teachers and students that haven’t been reported to DCF or law enforcement.
Channel 9 reached out to Apopka police Tuesday morning, but have not heard back.
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