SIOUX CITY, Iowa — A Sioux City father says his daughter was sexually assaulted at school and the district is doing nothing to investigate it. Now, he's called for action from the school board.
Chad Krastel has asked the district and superintendent, Dr. Paul Gausman, to investigate the alleged sexual abuse of his daughter at the hands of another child back in November at an after-school program called Beyond The Bell, but Gausman has yet to do so.
During Monday night's school board meeting, Krastel asked for Gausman's resignation or firing, claiming a disregard over board policy and lack of concern for his daughter's wellbeing. Krastel spoke during the meeting's open forum, holding up copies of board policies he states the school district and Gausman has failed to follow. Along with local school board policies, Krastel also highlighted the Iowa Code where he says the school district and Gausman have failed to follow as well. According to Krastel, Gausman stated that because the alleged assault happened after school "while under the supervision of Beyond The Bell, the district isn't required to investigate."
"These policies are not properly followed from the Principal all the way to the superintendent," Krastel said during the meeting. "Our child's due process was violated, and the schools are less safe due to this failure. Because of this, I ask that you appoint an investigator into all of this. Into the sexual assault and the true reasons the process was not followed. They should also investigate the likelihood that this sexual assault is not the only one."
Chad Krastel stood in front of the Sioux City School Board Monday night, asking for Superintendent Dr. Paul Gausman's resignation for disregard over board policy. Watch his full statement.
I am here to ask for the superintendent to resign or for the school board to hold him accountable for his lack of morality, the uneducated ignorance of law and policy, and/or the corruption involved. ~ Chad Krastel to School Board.Last week, Krastel and his wife told Siouxland News how their daughter once loved to go to school, even begging her parents to send her early. After the alleged sexual abuse, she is now afraid to go to pre-school and has since been pulled from the school entirely.
"The superintendent has destroyed my daughter's foundation," Krastel said. "We had to pull our child from school because she didn't feel safe going there anymore. So what does that do to a child who is supposed to continue to build on that foundation? He's destroyed it."
Krastel was also at the school board meeting on February 10th in regards to his daughter's alleged assault. He and his wife have also spoken with Sioux City Police and have taken their daughter to see a child therapist following the incident.
Ahead of Monday night's school board meeting, Krastel told us that he did meet privately with Dr. Gausman last week following our story to discuss his daughter's alleged assault, but Gausman wouldn't discuss board policies. Following Krastel's statement, Gausman told us that by law, he can't discuss this incident, but works to make sure the Sioux City School District is a safe learning environment for all students.
I sat down with Krastel and his wife last week to discuss the incident that occurred at the after-school program Beyond The Bell. You can read and watch that story here.
You can read the full statement from Sioux City Superintendent Dr. Paul Gausman below, or watch his statement in its entirety at the bottom of this story.
As the Superintendent of the District, I feel I need to address recent allegations that have been made about how we handle reported concerns involving our students. First and foremost, I want to be very clear that the District is committed to providing an environment where students and staff members are treated with dignity and respect.
As the Superintendent, it is my job to model accountability and student-centered leadership. It is also my job to support our staff in doing the same. I can tell you with great certainty that all of our staff are committed to providing a safe, supportive environment that is conducive to student learning.
However, due to student privacy laws, we are not able to comment on specific matters. Many people do not understand why we cannot provide details on individual cases, so I want to take a moment to explain. The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) as well as state confidentiality laws protect student information and almost always prevent us from discussing specific matters. This means we cannot confirm if a concern about a specific student was brought forth, if it was investigated, or if any action was taken. These laws protect the privacy of all of our students, and the District must follow these laws.
While we cannot comment on any specific instances of concern, I can tell you about the practices we follow when a concern is brought to our attention.
Board Policies set out various procedures that are in place for parents, students, and staff to follow when there are concerns about specific conduct that might impact a student’s educational opportunities. Those procedures are also in our Parent/Guardian and Student Handbook. If a concern is reported, we take steps to understand what occurred and then take appropriate action after considering all of the facts and circumstances.
Although our procedures are based on the laws that apply to schools, we may work in collaboration with other agencies, such as DHS or law enforcement when it is appropriate. We may also:
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SIOUX CITY, Iowa — The parents of a 4-year-old girl say the Sioux City School District isn't doing enough to address their concerns following the alleged sexual abuse of their daughter at the hands of another youngster and they want the superintendent to step down or be fired because of it.
Chad and Malynda Krastel enrolled their young daughter in preschool through the Sioux City Community School District and also, the after school program Beyond the Bell.
"She begged us for over a year for us to put her in school," Malynda said, recalling her daughter's excitement about starting school.
But that all changed after an incident in the school bathroom between their daughter and another student back in November during Beyond the Bell.
The Krastels began to notice changes in their little girl. She suddenly didn't want to go to school and was having accidents.
"It was slowly getting worse and worse to the point where she started wetting herself, being scared to go to the bathroom by herself."
When she eventually told her parents what had happened, they went to the school and spoke to the principal and assistant principal, asking them what to do next.
The Krastels also notified staff at Beyond The Bell. They then went to the Department of Human Services but were referred to the police department. Sioux City Police did what they could, but told the Krastel's that the main investigation had to come from the school.
The Krastels then went to the directors within the Sioux City Community School District, by then it was January.
"We ended up going to the district because we found that the kids were still being around each other and we need your help," Chad said.
But their request for the school district to investigate had stalled.
"Eventually, Jen Gomez sent a report to us for the first incident on January 31st. It had dates that were incorrect, it had blatant false information in there," Chad said. "They tried claiming that Beyond the Bell had done a report. I have not seen the Beyond the Bell report."
They also pushed the school to look into the child that allegedly assaulted their daughter.
"We were also asking that they investigate the child as well because we do believe that this other child is just as much a victim as ours," the Krastels said.
As they were filing the report with the district, Chad also began looking at school policies and the Iowa Code for education.
"What was the process that should have been followed? Because I knew there had to be something in place for these things to happen," Chad said. "That's when I discovered not only did they violate their own policies, but they are violating state law that requires them to have this policy."
While the district seemed to delay their investigation, Chad went to the Sioux City City Council on January 27th to voice his frustrations.
"The school district kept blaming the police department, so I went to the council saying, 'we need help'," he said. "The police have done everything they could and the school is just hiding behind the police department."
Chad went to a school board meeting on February 10th to bring up his concerns. He also wrote emails to everyone on the Sioux City School Board, the Iowa Department of Education and the Board of Educational Examiners.
"I am trying to do everything I can and just yesterday (Tuesday) I get an email by the superintendent saying he's not going to investigate," he said.
"And this is after the board ordered him to do so," Malynda added.
The Krastel's have emails and text messages from School Board Members and other district officials stating that there was and should be an investigation into the incident. They had set up a face to face meeting with the superintendent to discuss the investigation for Thursday.
"After we agreed that we would be meeting tomorrow, I asked him specifically what he wanted me to bring and if he was going to be handling both aspects of the investigation in this meeting because he said he wasn't going to have the report ready and that's when he responded that he wasn't going to be investigating the incident," Chad said.
Now, Chad plans to go in front of the school board again and ask for the superintendent's resignation.
Chad said, "the fact that he can't even uphold policies..."
"and blatantly refuses to..." adds Malynda.
"He has one job," Chris said. "His one job is to uphold and enforce policies and he's not. I want his job at this point because if he can't keep our kids safe then he shouldn't be there. I want the school district to complete what they should have started back in November because my daughter deserves at least that."
The Krastel's have pulled their young daughter from the school and after school programs. She has also been seeing a child psychologist. The Krastel's say they have provided both their daughter's school and the district as a whole, documentation to back up the alleged assault. Now, they just want those responsible for not following policy and not protecting their daughter held accountable so it doesn't happen to another child.
"There is a Latin term that says "In Loco Parentis" and what that means is, in place of the parent," Chad told me. "They are there to keep our children safe. And they're not."
Siouxland News has received copies of the reports and has seen correspondence between the Krastel Family and the school district. We also reached out to the Sioux City Community School District for comment.
Mandie Mayo, Director of Communications for the Sioux City Community School District sent Siouxland News the following statement:
The Sioux City Community School District is committed to maintaining the safety of every student. The District works with all of our families and students when we become aware of a concern about a student’s well-being. However, due to student privacy laws, we are not able to comment on specific matters. Board Policies 103 and 504 set out various procedures that are in place for parents, students and staff to follow when there are concerns about a situation that might impact a student’s educational opportunities. Our Parent/Guardian and Student Handbook also contains that information. When a concern is reported to us, the District will take steps to understand what occurred, and in appropriate situations may collaborate with and/or refer the matter to the proper agencies or authorities. All staff within the Sioux City Community School District are committed to providing a supportive environment that is conducive to learning.
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SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Neb. — “1 in 8 couples in the United States is going to experience infertility in some format. And just the barrier of getting treatment is so hard because it just costs so much.”
What should be a joyous moment in life becomes an emotional and oftentimes financial struggle, especially in the face of infertility.
Stephen and Leah Russell are just like any other couple. They began talking about kids before they were married and after more than a year of trying, they saw a doctor. Because of their young age, it took multiple doctor visits before they found one who would take their case and what they discovered was hard to hear.
“It seems to be everyone when they get the news that they need IVF, they have the same reaction I had. We can't afford this,” Leah recalled.
The Russells know these struggles firsthand. One round of in-vitro fertilization or IVF, can cost tens of thousands of dollars. They've been through three.
“Infertility is not covered by most insurance plans,” Leah said. “There are less than a dozen states in the United States that have a mandate that it even needs to be offered.”
Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota are not among that list.
“Even if I wanted to go and buy and insurance plan and pay out-of-pocket for it, it pretty much does not exist,” she said. Leah spent countless hours doing research on insurance with infertility coverage.
The Russells had to take out a new loan on their car to afford their first round of IVF. That took place in September of 2017. They went through an embryo transfer, but it didn’t work. It took them nearly two years to try again.
To afford their second round, they applied for grants, friends from across the country and even around the world held fundraisers. Stephen and Leah saved every penny they could to afford for their second IVF round which happened in January 2019.
“When we finished two, we kind of hit a spot where we thought we were done because we could not afford it anymore,” Leah recalled. “We didn't want to be done. Emotionally, we wanted to do more, but we were too young, we didn't make enough money. We just don't have our lives together enough to have that amount of cash available and we thought we were done.”
But that wasn’t the end of their journey. Leah was hired at a company that offers IVF treatment with their insurance coverage. While her entire paycheck does go to her insurance costs, having coverage at all for round three was a game-changer. What would have cost them $2,000 just for shots, cost less than $200 with insurance.
“When they said $160, I don't want to say it was life-changing because that sounds very dramatic, but it really was because it was such a big difference from what we had experienced before,” Leah said. “I didn't need special funding for that. I could just pay that with our normal weekly paycheck. It wasn't this thing that greatly impacted our life. We were able to just go forward with it and that was really exciting.”
Round 3 of IVF for the Russell’s took place in December of 2019 and that cycle again, didn’t work.
“It was very unsettling, and it also happened on Christmas Eve,” Leah said. “So, we had gone into this hoping for that joyous Christmas magic that you experienced as a child and just found the opposite.”
“You just kind of break down and you ask yourself, why are you doing this? Why are we going through so much pain and suffering because it does take a massive toll on her body,” Stephen said of the treatments, shots and procedures Leah has to go through for each IVF round. "I think it always just comes back to that we really do want to have biological children and that's something that is important to both of us," he said.
Through the highs and lows and their fight for affordable care, this journey has given the Russells something they weren’t expecting: a voice.
“Through this, I feel like infertility for me has really tested my strength and my happiness and it's really made me sometimes not like myself very much or not like my situation and it's just a very dark thing. But I knew the one thing that it couldn't take away was my voice,” Leah said. “So I wanted to take my voice and share our story so that anyone out there who is reading, even if they don't feel safe talking about it yet, can just hear that someone else is going through this and here is how they deal with it and hopefully, I can help someone else and if I can get that out of this, then it was all worth it to be to be able to impact someone’s life.”
Leah has taken to Facebook to share their journey, connecting with other women and other couples around the globe who have and who are also experiencing infertility and friends who just want to offer their support.
Stephen and Leah have also become involved with Conceive Nebraska, which holds a Walk for Infertility in Omaha each year.
This journey has brought them closer to others who have fought the same battle they are currently fighting. It’s also brought them closer as a couple.
“I had this moment where I sat down and thought to myself... this can either tear us apart or it can make us stronger. And I decided that I wanted it to make us stronger,” Leah said.
Stephen agreed, “I think we actually help each other by reassuring each other that it is okay and it's not our fault. It's just... reassure each other a lot and comfort each other when we are at the lowest point and just support each other and hold each other up.”
“I would not choose this journey, ever. If somebody came to me and said... hey, you can be fertile, I would do it in a second. I would not want to go through this anymore,” said Leah. “But if the choice was having him in my life for being fertile, I would take infertility with him any day. As long as I have him in my life, I have everything I need, and we can get through this together. But I would take living childless with him over having children with anyone else and I think knowing that is really important.”
“If it never happens,” Stephen said, “that's okay because we have each other.”
Both Stephen and Leah are going through more medical tests as they prepare for what they hope is Round 4 of IVF. While they don't know for certain what their future holds, they do know that they will always have each other to lean on.
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