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Kansas City Plaza Academy Executive Director, Ward Worley, Continues Working Amid Failure to Report Sexual Assault Charges
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Kansas City, Missouri – Ward Worley, the executive director of The Plaza Academy, a private school located at 3930 Broadway Blvd, Kansas City, MO 64111, has continued reporting to work despite being charged four months ago with failing to report a sexual assault that occurred at the private school. Worley, 56, was charged on September 27, 2023, with one misdemeanor count of failure to report child abuse or neglect of a child under 18, as he did not notify state investigators about the incident.

School Official Failed To Report Private School Sexual Abuse

The sexual assault involved a student under 14 and a 17-year-old student at The Plaza Academy. According to court documents, it was revealed that the school was notified of the incident on February 27, 2023, but it was not reported to the authorities until May 5, 2023. The Kansas City Police Department initiated an investigation on May 5, 2023, leading to Worley’s subsequent charges on September 27, 2023.

Victim’s Mother Transfers Child to Another School Following Sex Abuse at Private School

Following the incident, the mother of the victim made the decision to enroll her child at a different private school. In an interview with KCUR, she expressed relief that her child is now safe and thriving in a new environment. To protect the privacy of the child, the name of the mother has been withheld.

Worley’s Court Date Approaches After Being Accused of Failing to Report Sexual Abuse

Worley’s next court appearance was scheduled for February 14, 2024, in Jackson County Circuit Court. If convicted, he could face up to a year in the county jail and a $2,000 fine.

School’s Response Raises Questions As Employee Charged With Crime Still Employed

The continued presence of Worley in the school raises questions about who, if anyone, approved his return to work. Zola Gordy, the board president of Plaza Academy, initially declined to comment on the matter, stating that the school was waiting for the investigation to conclude. However, when informed that the investigation had ended and charges were filed, Gordy abruptly ended the conversation after expressing confidence in Worley. Attempts to reach other school officials, including board secretary Steve Marzullo, Worley, and Worley’s lawyer, John P. O’Connor, were unsuccessful.

Ultimately, the decision regarding Worley’s employment rests with the school’s board. The Plaza Academy, which has been operating since 1974, retains the authority to terminate Worley if they choose to do so.

Lack of State Oversight for Private Schools in Missouri

The case highlights the lack of state oversight in personnel matters at private schools in Missouri. The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) confirmed that they have no regulatory authority over private schools in the state, including personnel decisions. This stands in contrast to Kansas, where accredited private schools are regulated by the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) and are required to hire licensed teachers and administrators.

The case raises questions about how school districts should handle situations where an employee who has contact with students is charged with a crime, like failing to notify officials of child sex abuse. Policies vary among public school districts, with some requiring employees to report any charges or convictions and evaluating each case individually. Charges related to failing to report incidents, such as in Worley’s case, are often treated more seriously and may result in a leave of absence or other disciplinary action.

Potential Professional Repercussions If Found Guilty of Failing to Report Abuse

While Worley’s return to work does not violate any state or local rules, he may still face professional repercussions. Worley, who has been licensed as a professional counselor since 2007, could have his license suspended or revoked by the Committee for Professional Counselors if found guilty of an offense directly related to his professional duties.

About the Private School

The Plaza Academy, originally known as The New School for Human Education, was founded in 1974 with a mission to provide a highly individualized education that combines book learning with real-life experiences. The school changed its name to The Plaza Academy in 1987.

Exploring Civil Lawsuits for Private School Sex Abuse Victims in Missouri

In a recent interview, sexual abuse lawyer Reed Martens, Esq., discusses the options available to private school sex abuse victims and their families. Attorney Laurence Banville engages in a discussion with Martens, exploring the legal process, potential challenges, and advice for those seeking justice. This interview provides valuable insights into the avenues for seeking accountability and support for victims of sex abuse in Missouri’s private schools.

Attorney Laurence Banville (LB): Welcome, Reed. We’d like to discuss what options private school sex abuse victims and their families have in pursuing civil cases against liable parties.

Reed Martens, Esq. (RM): Thank you, Laurence. I appreciate the opportunity to shed light on this issue. When it comes to school sex abuse cases, victims and their families have legal recourse to seek justice through civil litigation.

LB: Could you explain the process of pursuing a civil case against a private school in Missouri?

RM: Certainly, Laurence. In Missouri, private schools can be held accountable for their failure to protect students from sexual abuse. To pursue a civil case, the victim or their family would typically need to engage an experienced sex abuse attorney with experience in private school abuse cases. The attorney would investigate the incident, gather evidence, and identify liable parties, such as the school administration, staff, or even individual perpetrators.

LB: And what legal grounds might victims and their families have for filing a civil case?

RM: Victims and their families may have various legal grounds for a civil case, including negligence, premises liability, and failure to protect. The exact legal strategy would depend on the specific circumstances of each case. It’s crucial to consult with an attorney to determine the most appropriate legal claims.

LB: Are there any limitations or challenges victims should be aware of when pursuing a civil case against a private school in Missouri?

RM: Yes, Laurence. It’s important to note that Missouri has a statute of limitations for filing civil claims related to sexual abuse. However, recent changes in the law have expanded the time frame for survivors to come forward and seek justice. Additionally, navigating the legal process can be complex, especially when dealing with private schools that may have the resources to mount a defense. That’s why having a skilled attorney who specializes in sexual abuse cases is essential.

LB: Thank you for clarifying that, Reed. Finally, what else would you say to school sex abuse victims and their families who are considering pursuing a civil case?

RM: First prioritize the well-being of the victim and their family. Seeking justice through a civil case can be a difficult and emotional journey. It’s crucial to find a compassionate and knowledgeable attorney who can guide them through the legal process, support their needs, and fight for their rights. Remember, you’re not alone, and there is support available.

LB: Thank you, Reed, for sharing your expertise on this important topic. Victims and their families deserve justice, and it’s vital that they understand their options.

RM: Thank you, Laurence. It was my pleasure to contribute to this discussion and raise awareness about the legal avenues available to school sex abuse victims and their families.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation: Putting Private School Abuse Survivors First

If you or your loved ones have been affected by school sex abuse and are seeking legal guidance and support, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team. We understand the sensitive nature of these cases and are committed to advocating for justice on behalf of victims and their families. Contact us today for a free consultation, where we can discuss your situation, explore your legal options, and provide the compassionate assistance you deserve. Remember, you are not alone in this fight for justice.

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