TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Tampa police are investigating after a charter school principal was accused of ignoring multiple instances of child abuse.
Channelside Academy of Math and Science principal Cristina Fuentes, 49, turned herself in on Friday, according to a release from the Tampa Police Department.
Fuentes is charged with two counts of failure to report child abuse in connection with an incident in Dec. 2022 and an incident last month. Florida law requires teachers and school officials to report instances of suspected child abuse to the Florida Department of Children and Families or their local sheriff’s office.
On Dec. 15, 2022, a teacher reported that a lunch monitor grabbed a 7-year-old student and threw him to the ground, causing injuries to his head and shoulder. Despite reviewing security footage of the incident and signing off on termination paperwork for the employee, Fuentes allegedly did not report the incident to the authorities, according to Tampa police.
On April 27, a teacher told Fuentes that the same student from the Dec. 15 incident was touched inappropriately by another child for about 30 seconds, according to Tampa police. Other students intervened and got the teacher involved. The school’s assistant principal began the reporting process, but Tampa police stated Fuentes allegedly “took over” and did not report the incident to the proper officials.
Fuentes allegedly told police that she did not know she was required to report abuse, but witnesses told police, under oath, that school employees are trained on mandatory reporting. Their most recent training session reportedly took place at the beginning of the school year.
Both incidents are still under investigation, according to the Tampa Police Department.