NEW ORLEANS -- Two members of the leadership team at the Success Preparatory Academy in the Treme were arrested on allegations that they failed to alert authorities about their discovery of video clips allegedly showing a student being forced to perform oral sex on a group of other students in a school bathroom.
According to our partners at The New Orleans Advocate, Nicole Kusmerik, the second-in-command at the K-8 charter school, and Shayla Shane, the school's Director of Culture, were arrested for possession of child pornography and failing to report child abuse despite being required to do so as educators.
The attorney for both women, Nandi Campbell, said she believes her clients' actions prevented students from widely sharing the video on social media. According to The New Orleans Advocate, Campbell added that there is no indication that Kusmerik and Shane were under criminal investigation and that they were blindsided by their arrests.
"For NOPD to charge these teachers with possession of pornography is the most obscene thing I've seen since I've been doing this work," said Campbell, adding that both women arrived in New Orleans years ago as part of the Teach for America program. "It's a declaration of war on teachers who are on the front lines of the school-to-prison pipeline we see in this city."
Success' principal, Niloy Gangopadhyay, said in a statement that his school stood behind both Kusmerik and Shane and doesn't believe there was any "criminal intent or action on their part."
"In our opinion, they took appropriate action and protected the interests of our school and the safety of those students," said the principal, adding that an internal investigation found no violations of procedure on behalf of the staffers.