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Parents of Draper children fire off scathing letter to Canyons School District

Published: Tuesday, May 27 2014 5:50 p.m. MDT

Toomer-Cook said the district has only rejected the offers to meet with the parents as a group, but welcomes meeting with anyone on a one-on-one basis.

"We actually have invited all of the parents, individually, to talk to us. If you have questions, come talk to us," she reiterated. "We have always said we will meet with them individually, and that is our stance."

Carol said she is disappointed.

"We believe that the district has a right to protect our kids. We know that bad people can get to our kids no matter where they are. But we don't feel like the district did everything they could have, everything they should have, that we thought they were doing, to protect our special needs children," she said.

The Canyons district does not require an aide to ride on the buses along with special needs children. But, because of the type of needs her daughter has, Carol said a second adult was required to ride her bus. She said she has information that that didn't always happen.

Toomer-Cook said the district's records show otherwise.

"The fact is that all of our bus logs show for kids who had an (Individual Education Plan) specifying an aide, all of our logs show that our regular aide or a substitute aide was on the bus with them," she said. "We are happy to hear specific incidents so we can follow up."

Some parents believe that an aide should now ride all buses with special needs children at all times.

Carol also believes the district should actually check the video cameras that are installed in buses more often. Because if no one does an occassional audit or spot check of the video that is recorded, "then they're really not doing any good."

The fact that Carrell also drove a bus route to Draper Park Middle School was discovered by a school district employee whose child rode his bus, according to the letter. That parent contacted the school district and police on May 12. Since then, the parents claim the whistleblower has been reprimanded by the district and threatened with termination.

But Toomer-Cook said the district has no record of a whistleblower being disciplined.

"We don't have any evidence to say that there was that," she said.

The parents believe the Canyons School District engaged in a "deliberate strategy" to withhold information. Carol said just because Carrell was no longer driving in Draper and no parent had, at that point, filed a complaint, doesn't mean the district didn't have an obligation to notify parents on that route or Draper police.

"So he might have abused your children but he's no longer abusing them, therefore you don't care to report that to police? The Utah law is very clear, if you suspect child abuse, you need to report it. And they did not report that to (Draper) police. That's horrendous to me," she said.

The parents also take issue with the district for telling the media that all district policies had been followed.

"We are offended nearly every time the public relations employees of the school district speak in the media about this matter. The school district should immediately stop asserting that it has acted properly in all respects. Rather, the school district should publicly apologize to parents and special needs children for its failures," they state in the letter.

Among the demands parents are making: a meeting with district administrators, a record of all of Carrell's bus routes dating back to when he was hired in 2009, that the whistleblower be restored to good standing, and that the school board hire an independent investigator to look at the facts surrounding the case.

Toomer-Cook said the district's strategy is to work with police closely. It is also always looking at ways they it can improve. She said school board members had just received the letter on Tuesday and haven't had time to study it closely but have directed "staff" to look into it.

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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