Checking the archives at the Star

Dateline: Thu 26 Mar 2009

A reader of the Indianapolis Star and this blog has taken note of a major miss by the Star. On March 20, the Star's Jason Thomas reported that a first-year instructor at Perry Township Schools, Trinda Barocas, has been placed on leave following a report that she possibly abused a special-needs child.

However, our reader points up, in an email sent Friday, that this teacher had been suspended two years ago in a similar incident -- and that the story was reported by the Star's Amy Bartner. (Ironically, the idiotic comments section of Thomas' story also notes that the teacher in question has a history).

Here's what the disgruntled Star reader said:

"Another example of poor reporting on Indystar. Jason Thomas had a

story about a Perry Township special education teacher who has been

suspended after she was accused of abusing a little special-needs girl. Apparently this act was witnessed by an Instructional Assistant. Here is the story, if you haven't seen it:

http://www.indystar.com/article/20090320/LOCAL1801/90320029

"Apparently young reporters aren't taught to check the archives to see

if anything has previously ran on the subject. If he had, he would have found that two years ago this month, Amy Bartner ran a story about the same teacher being suspended after being accused of abusing an 8 year old autistic student.

"It's such a shame that newsrooms have gone from being a place where

j-students aspire to end up to being the place where they start their

careers." (Amen to that...)

The reader then tagged on Bartner's story from 3/10/2007, which is included here:

"FRANKLIN - A Creekside Elementary teacher has been suspended after a

parent told police she discovered bruises and marks on the wrists of her 8-year-old daughter, who has autism.

"Special services teacher Trinda Barocas is on paid leave until the

Johnson County Sheriff's Department and Creekside Principal Sally

Jones complete investigations, said Franklin Schools Superintendent

William Patterson.

"'Any time there's a report of behavior that might be construed to be

inappropriate, it's a concern, but obviously we have to investigate to

find out the degree to which the behavior was inappropriate or not

inappropriate,' Patterson said.

"Michelle Henson, 30, Franklin, said she called the Sheriff's

Department on Wednesday after a nurse riding the school bus home with her daughter told her she saw Barocas force-feeding her daughter and restraining and slapping her hands in the lunchroom that day.

"'When I came inside to take off (my daughter's) jacket, she kept

saying, 'Ow, ow,' " Henson said Thursday. "There was a mark on her

wrist like something was holding her down.'

"Barocas , who has been with the school for about a year, could not be

reached for comment Thursday.

"Henson said she's had problems with Barocas in the past. She said on

one occasion, she walked into a classroom and saw Barocas holding her daughter's arms behind her back.

"'She doesn't speak that much because she's autistic, so she can't come

home and say, 'Hey Mom this is what the teacher did to me today,' Henson said. 'If she's doing this to children who can't talk, is she trying to hide something?'

"Henson said she approached the school's principal before filing a

report with police. She said her daughter is fine and a happy,

resilient girl, but the incident has upset her.

"'When I send my child to school, I want to feel like she's safe there.

If she's treating my daughter like this, how is she treating the other

kids in the class?'"

This earlier story raises all sorts of red flags. One has to wonder, if a reader could pick up this thread, how the newspaper managed to miss it....and will they correct it by doing more reporting?

Probably not.

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