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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Howell bus investigation: Two school employees claim statements inaccurate in police report

Valerie Olander / The Detroit News

At least two Howell Public Schools' employees claim statements attributed to them on a police report regarding an alleged sexual assault on a school bus were inaccurate, according to a 62-page report released today by the district.

After five months, an investigation conducted by the Lansing-based Thrun Law firm under the direction of the Board of Education, also shows conflicting accounts over the handling of allegations that a 7-year-old was forced to perform oral sex on two older boys, then 9 and 11, on a school bus in May 2007.

The report also says Superintendent Chuck Breiner did not know about the incident until Sept. 17 -- nearly four months after the alleged incident -- when a parent of one of the boys reported it to him.

Southwest Elementary Principal Jill Hilla said she was told by a Howell Police officer on May 31 that the incident was of a sexual nature. She claimed when she talked to the 7-year-old, the boy claimed a 9-year-old from Challenger was "bullying" him over urinating on a school bus.

"The Principal was emphatic that, contrary to a police report, she had not initially reported an incident involving alleged criminal sexual conduct; rather it was a police officer who informed her about the allegation," the report says.

Brian Wiles, fleet transportation director, also reported during his interview with the attorney from Thrun that he disagreed with statements attributed to him in a May 31 police incident report stating that a videotape from the bus showed that it appeared to him that sexual activity had occurred.

You can reach Valerie Olander at (517) 552 5503 or volander@detnews.com.

 
 
 
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