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Most of the allegations leveled against the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts and its executive director in May were either unfounded or "based on inaccurate or incomplete information," University of Arkansas System President Donald Bobbitt said in a letter released Friday by school officials.
In the letter, which pertains to the findings of an independent review of ASMSA, Bobbitt said the evaluator "concluded that the vast majority of the allegations were either unfounded or were based on inaccurate or incomplete information."
ASMSA Director Corey Alderdice requested authorization from Bobbitt for the external review on May 17 following claims made during a Board of Visitors meeting at the school on May 13. At the meeting, multiple grievances were voiced during the public comment portion of the proceedings by parents, students and a former employee.
These included an allegation from a 17-year-old male student that he was sexually assaulted on campus and that no action had been taken by administration after he reported the incident.
"The evaluator reviewed numerous documents and policies and interviewed students, faculty and staff members. According to the review, because school officials are prohibited by law from sharing the details of certain situations that involve students, they were limited in providing details which may have quickly put to rest some of the issues that were raised. After reviewing policies and interviewing relevant persons, the evaluator found that Residence Life officials promptly and thoroughly investigated the complaint and correctly concluded that the student's allegations did not constitute sexual assault," Bobbitt said in his letter.
He continued to say that the incident occurred in a classroom and "was witnessed by several individuals." Bobbitt's letter stated that the evaluator "determined that the ASMSA officials involved in the investigation were correct in their assessment that there was no obligation to report the allegation to the Child Abuse Hotline since it was determined that the conduct described by the student did not meet the definition of sexual abuse or other similar conduct under the Child Maltreatment Act."
Bobbitt said the reviewer also investigated allegations of racism, classism, bullying and mistreatment by Residence Life and other staff members. As for these allegations, Bobbitt said the reviewer concluded that many of these concerns were the "result of incorrect assumptions based upon a lack of all of the facts of a particular situation," and that the evaluator was "unable to find any support to substantiate complaints that the Residence Life staff or any other employee either individually, or collectively, mistreated or acted inappropriately towards any student."
In his letter, Bobbitt says that the U of A System and ASMSA "have a serious responsibility to ensure their safety and well-being," and that "there is always room for improvement." He also stated the reviewer provided ASMSA with feedback for improvements to school.
"I appreciate the University of Arkansas System's desire to seek an independent review as well as the intentionally and thoroughness of the reviewer in investigating the accusations," Alderdice said in a statement released Friday.
"I believe the findings affirm that ASMSA administrators and our Residence Life Staff acted with professionalism and integrity throughout the past year. An institution that is committed to excellence must always prioritize continuous improvement. Our campus leadership team believes this review offers the opportunity to explore growth and practical improvements in our residential, student support, and external engagement programs."
In his letter, Bobbitt said that in a recent meeting with the Board of Visitors and other stakeholders, he pledged his "personal commitment and that of the UA System to do everything we can to support our students, faculty and staff at ASMSA."
"Director Alderdice and I have met several times since the May meeting," Bobbitt said, "and we will continue to work together to ensure that the stellar academic reputation ASMSA has achieved under his leadership is matched by the daily life experiences afforded to our students while they are away from home."
Local on 09/15/2019
Print Headline: Independent investigation finds most ASMSA allegations 'unfounded'