TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Hillsborough County elementary school principal was charged with failure to report child abuse after reporting a May 2021 incident to professional standards, not the Abuse Hotline, according to a criminal report affidavit.
The report alleges Patrick Lalone, while employed as the Principal of Davis Elementary School in Tampa, was shown a classroom video of a teacher and an eight year old victim raising their voices at one another. The video allegedly shows the teacher “aggressively shoving” a desk into the victim who then “cries out in pain,” according to the affidavit.
After Lalone was shown the video, he allegedly contacted professional standards instead of calling the abuse hotline, authorities said, where the incident was depicted as “verbal only.” The video showed the incident was more than just verbal.
Professional Standards noted the video was not “verbal only,” and according to documents, Lalone was disciplined by Professional Standards, along with the teacher in question.
An abuse report was not taken at that time.
The report alleges Lalone did not contact the abuse hotline for another 11 days. He apparently waited until he was ordered to do so by Hillsborough County Public Schools. However, when Lalone made the report, the language did not indicate the victim had been injured, and the educator did not intend to cause harm, documents allege.
Nearly three months later, in August 2021, a witness told authorities of additional inappropriate behaviors, both verbal and physical, by the same teacher. The witness added those separate incidents were never addressed by Lalone.
According to the affidavit, Lalone did not contact the parents about the incident in May. The victim’s parent was not informed of the incident until Aug. 13, 2021 — three months and three days later.
The witness added on one occasion Lalone paid a visit to the classroom where the incident occurred but did not speak to the student that made the allegation or investigate the incident. The witness claimed he only “sarcastically responded to the student.”
As a result of the incident not being reported “in a timely manner,” the affidavit said there was no way to determine if the victim had sustained any visible, physical injury. Additionally, the lack of reporting “hindered the possibility of a proper investigation by law enforcement and CPS.”
Lalone, as a school official, is a mandatory reporter. In his role as principal, this means Lalone is required to report potential cases of child abuse, by law.
His failure to report the incident in question led to his arrest, though he has since paid his bond and left state custody. Lalone was charged with one count of failure to report child abuse.