This story has been updated to reflect a report conducted by the Imagine School at Lakewood Ranch's governing board into the alleged claims.
LAKEWOOD RANCH — The principal of Imagine School at Lakewood Ranch is on paid leave while the state investigates whether she failed to report child abuse.
The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office began investigating Selenia Quinones in October after a parent reported to the police that a student was performing oral sex on her son and others at school.
A second complaint more than two weeks later alleged Quinones failed to report the abuse to the State Attorney’s Office, as she is required to do under more severe reporting laws that were adapted in the wake of the Penn State molestation case.
The incident at Imagine allegedly occurred in April. The children involved were younger than 5 years old at the time of the incident. Dave Bristow, spokesperson for the sheriff’s office, said the students are not subject to charges because of their age.
The sheriff’s office has recommended Quinones be charged with one felony count of failure to report child abuse, a charge that can bring jail time and a $5,000 fine.
Additionally, on Oct. 23, Rick Mills, Manatee County School District superintendent, requested the governing board of Imagine School Lakewood Ranch to conduct its own investigation of the incident.
Bob Wilson, the board chairman of Imagine School at Lakewood Ranch, conducted that investigation.
In a report based on more than six hours of interviews, Wilson determined Quinones did nothing wrong — and she denied the alleged oral sex occurred.
It confirms an incident occurred at the school April 11. On that day, the report says, a student reported to his VPK teacher (one of two teachers in the class) that some male students were showing their genitals.
Wilson confirmed the primary teacher of the class immediately spoke with each of the boys separately. The boys admitted to showing their genitals but made no claims beyond that. The teacher communicated to the boys the seriousness of the situation. After the school day, the report says, the primary teacher discussed the incident with each parent.
In his report, Wilson determined the teachers and Quinones had responded appropriately to the April incident, and a parent had embellished the claims of oral sex months after the incident occurred.
The report alleges the parent’s son was not present at the time of the April incident.
Even so, the report says, the parent later told another parent — a friend of hers — about the alleged oral sex.
The friend — a parent of one of the sons involved in the April incident — ended up filing the police report in October.
A little more than a week later, two investigators came to the school and informed Quinones they were investigating a report of oral sex occurring on school grounds. Quinones, the report said, claimed to have never heard about the alleged oral sex.
The report concludes:
“In conclusion, while it is very easy to get caught up in emotion and the visceral reaction that hearing oral sex had been conducted on the school grounds of the Imagine School, there is not one piece of evidence, nor are there independent witnesses to substantiate the claim. The final conclusion is that the principal and her staff reacted properly and that the issue should be closed.”
Bristow, spokesman for the sheriff's office, confirmed the incident started with boys showing their genitals but would not comment on the nature of the case beyond that.
Imagine Schools is a network of more than 50 public charter schools across the country.
Charter schools are approved and monitored by the district, but they govern themselves.
Quinones has been on paid administrative leave from Imagine School since Nov. 4.
Bristow said the sheriff’s office sent the state a capias request recommending the charges Oct. 23.
He said the sheriff’s office has not heard back from the state yet.
“She (Quinones) has not been charged with anything at this point,” Bristow said.
Imagine School at Lakewood Ranch, located at 10535 Portal Crossing, opened in 2008.
It serves 575 students from pre-kindergarden through eighth grade.
Contact Josh Siegel at email@example.com.
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