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Greeley school didn’t report allegation of sexual contact of student by teacher to police

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GREELEY, Colo. -- A charter school is under investigation after it failed to report to police an allegation of unlawful sexual contact.

The K-8 dual language school got the complaint in the spring involving an eighth-grade girl and a male teacher at the Salida del Sol Academy.

But police are just now hearing about it.

Joe Melendez, the school’s executive director and a retired Greeley police officer, along with another retired officer on staff investigated the complaint. The school then fired the teacher.

But they never told police about the accusation even though public and private school officials are required by law to report such abuse.

A mother of a third-grader at the school said they do a phenomenal job with teaching kids English and Spanish, and she knows they will do the right thing.

“If it did happen the way you say, it wasn’t reported. It was wrong. It needs to be settled, taken care of for the child because any type of sexual abuse is wrong,” Ursula Haney said.

"Salida del Sol Academy in accordance with its policies and pursuant to all applicable laws investigated a complaint brought forth by a student," the school said in a statement. "After a thorough investigation, it was determined that there was not sufficient information to proceed further.

"We take seriously our responsibility to report any allegations that merit reporting; however, in this situation given the statements of the student this did not rise to a level of any sexual activity on the part of the teacher. There were separate issues with this teacher following direction and policies. Those issues lead to the teacher’s termination."

The Greeley Police Department and the Weld County District Attorney's Office are investigating the claim.

If the school is wrong, its administrators could face up to six months in jail for failing to report the alleged abuse.

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