Sexual Misconduct Against a Minor – Parents Voice Loss of Trust in Ashland School System

ASHLAND, Ore. — Parents have voiced their loss of trust at a public meeting organized by school district Superintendent Samuel Bogdanove following the disclosure that an employee of the TRAILS Outdoor School in Ashland was involved in sexual abuse or misconduct with a child off-campus in 2022.

Bogdanove confirmed that the incident did not occur at the school, and the minor involved in the incident was not a student at the school.


Parents Want Guarantee That Investigation Will Be “Followed Through”

Dozens of concerned parents attended the meeting and asked what guarantee Bogdanove could give them that the incident would be “followed through.” Bogdanove told the meeting that the investigation involved “due process”, adding that like government and law enforcement agencies, “due process” also applied to school systems.

Parents also questioned whether similar sexual abuse incidents could have occurred in Ashland or Jackson County school districts without being reported.

Bogdanove assured the parents that this was “an isolated incident” that occurred when an investigating team from the Oregon Department of Human Services failed to alert the Ashland School District about a TRAILS Outdoor School male employee who took part in an act of sexual misconduct with a minor in 2022.

The man in question was employed as an educational assistant in 2021 and is now on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation by the Ashland Police Department. His name has not been released, nor has an arrest been confirmed.

Bogdanove had earlier told the Press that the incident occurred in a public place in 2022. Recently, the DHS Office of Training, Investigations, and Safety (OTIS) had confirmed the incident that was known for the last two years but not shared due to an error by OTIS.


Parents Want Regular Background Checks on School Employees

Parents also expressed concern about the efficacy of background checks on school employees and Bogdanove assured them that all employees underwent a background check when hired. He said if their background checks were not clean, the applicants would not be hired. Bogdanove did admit that separate background checks were not conducted on school employees after acceptance.

A woman who works as a volunteer at various schools stated that the sexual misconduct incident may never have occurred had the school conducted annual background checks on employees. She questioned whether the existing background check system would be changed.

The meeting was also attended by TRAILS Outdoor School Interim Principal Ericka Beck Brattin, and Ashland School Board members Rebecca Dyson and Eva Skuratowicz. Beck Brattin said a parent of a student at the school had brought the sexual misconduct incident to her attention. Beck-Brattin said she decided to investigate, after which she contacted the OTIS state office and their failure to alert the Ashland School District then came to light.


An Error Caused OTIS Failure to Report

Bogdanove explained that allegations of misconduct are “cross-reported” to the Department of Education, Teachers’ Standards and Practices Commission, and law enforcement. He said the school district usually communicates with OTIS via the Oregon Department of Education. An error in the process prevented that from happening in this incident, he explained.


Ashland CID is Investigating

Ashland Chief of Police Tighe O’Meara confirmed that his criminal investigations division was investigating the matter. He said he was unable to comment as this was an ongoing investigation.

Bogdanove told parents at the meeting to contact the police if they have any further information to share.

He asked parents to contact the SafeOregon Tip Line on 844-472-3367 or to email [email protected] if they suspect child abuse of any kind.


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