Hillsborough principal arrested, accused of failing to report child abuse | #teacher | #children | #kids

A 51-year-old Hillsborough County elementary school principal has been arrested after authorities say he failed to report a child abuse incident involving a teacher and an 8-year-old student.

Patrick LaLone, the principal of Davis Elementary School in Tampa, was arrested Dec. 28 on a felony charge of failure to report child abuse as a professional. As an educator, he is a mandatory reporter under Florida law — something LaLone acknowledged that he knew, according to a criminal report affidavit.

The teacher, 28-year-old Kayla Godwin, was arrested Dec. 10 on a child abuse charge.

Kayla Godwin, 28, was arrested on a child abuse charge on Dec. 10 after authorities say she shoved a desk into a student during an argument. [ Photo provided / Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office ]

A video of the incident was provided to LaLone on May 10 that showed Godwin and the student raising their voices at each other, according to a criminal report affidavit. The student was seated at a desk in the classroom when Godwin, who was standing in front of the student’s desk, is seen “aggressively shoving the victim’s desk into the victim,” authorities said.

The child cried out on the video, and during an interview the 8-year-old described feeling pain in his left hand and his hip area, the affidavit said.

A Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office detective spoke with LaLone on Aug. 13 and he told the detective he did not call the state’s abuse hotline to report the incident on May 10, but instead reported it to the school district’s Office of Professional Standards — depicting it as a “verbal only” incident, according to the affidavit.

The video later was given to the Office of Professional Standards, at which time an official contacted LaLone to inform him he was being disciplined, and to discipline Godwin beyond the written reprimand LaLone had previously said he would give her, reports said.

The official also told LaLone to call the abuse hotline, which he did on May 21. However, according to the affidavit, a report was not taken by the hotline that day after LaLone said the student had not been injured and Godwin had not intended to harm the child.

The child’s parent was not contacted about the incident until the detective reached out on Aug. 13, the detective said.

Three days later, authorities say a witness reported more allegations involving Godwin — both verbal and physical. The witness said LaLone never addressed the complaints, other than a sarcastic response to a student in the class who told LaLone that Godwin had hit him, the affidavit said.

“This is an ongoing law enforcement investigation,” Tanya Arja, a spokesperson for the school district, said. “Mr. LaLone is currently on administrative leave and will not be on campus at this time. Kayla Godwin has resigned from her position with the district.”

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LaLone has been a district employee since 1993 and earns $95,970.

Godwin had been with the district since 2017.

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