Novel Felony Prosecution Of School Administrators Over Unreported Student Assaults

Temporizing for nearly five months before reporting that a student they oversaw as educational administrators had sexually assaulted a student in September and holding off for three months before informing authorities about the same student raping another student in November resulted in two vice principals at Carter High in Rialto being arrested on felony child abuse charges this week.
Meanwhile, the 17-year-old who engaged in those alleged attacks and another one in January was contacted by the police but not arrested. He was instead given a citation and released to what the police department indicated were his parents. Potential further criminal charges and an arrest of the youth are pending, authorities said.
Vice Principal David Shenhan Yang and Vice Principal Natasha Harris-Dawson were arrested and taken into custody by Rialto Police on Wednesday, February 23, at Wilmer Amina Carter High School, where they both serve as assistant vice principals. They were booked Tuesday afternoon into the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga on a single count each of child abuse under conditions likely to cause great bodily injury or death, and two misdemeanor counts of failure to report child abuse or neglect.
Officials with both the police and district attorney’s office did not offer an explanation as to why the arrests were confined to Yang and Harris-Dawson and no action was taken against Wilmer Amina Carter High School Principal Robin McMillon
Word was that the alleged perpetrator’s attack on the first known victim may have occurred as early as September 2021, and that Harris-Dawson and then Yang were told of what had happened in November 2021.
As government/school district employees, Yang and Harris-Dawson are so-called “mandated reporters,” who fall within the category of professionals such as social workers, physicians, teachers, educators or counselors who come into contact with what are termed “vulnerable elements of the population,” and are accordingly under legal obligation to report to the appropriate state agency any objectively reasonable sign of child abuse or elder abuse that he or she sees or encounters.
There were confusing and conflicting reports as to why Yang, Harris-Dawson or McMillon or all three failed to inform the police department about the alleged abuser’s action.
One indication was that there was some order of personal involvement, perhaps a guardianship arrangement, between one of the vice principals and the alleged perpetrator. Another was that the vice principal that first heard about the sexual assault did not deem the report credible. That version of events is problematic, however, since a second report relating to a second victim implicating the alleged perpetrator was received a month after the first, followed by a third report after that.
A video posted to TikTok on February 20 by Stephanie Olvera under the pseudonym “penelope_73” with the hashtag “justice for Johanna” shows a video of and captures the audio of Olvera confronting an unidentified school official. “How dare you tell me I had nothing to worry about,” Olvera can be heard saying. “You told me I didn’t need to leave my job. How dare you? My daughter was traumatized by the time I got home.”
When the school official asks Olvera to identify herself, she says “Who am I? Well, what type of mom are you? How dare you? How dare you not call the cops yesterday for her defense?” When the school official says, “I will call them,” Olvera replies, “Oh, now you will. I called them already.”
During further exchange about her daughter, identified by Olvera as “Joanna,” the school official can be heard saying, “Let me tell you, your daughter begged me, ‘Please, don’t call…’” At that point Olvera and an unidentified man accompanying Olvera react strongly, their utterances drowning out the school official, who attempts to continue. “It doesn’t matter,” Olvera says. “She’s a student.” The man can be heard saying, “Your protocol is to call for her. You’re not here to be her friend. You’re here to do your job. That’s it.”
With Olvera and the unidentified man, possibly Olvera’s husband and Johanna’s father, dominating the exchange with the school official, Olvera can be heard saying, “I heard you know about this student already, and nothing’s been done.”
Accompanying the TikTok video is the blurb, “[P]lease help me share my daughter [J]ohanna[’s] story[. S]he was sexually abused by a student in Carter [H]igh[S]chool and the school failed to contact me and the police to cover up for the student because he was considered a son to the vice principal[. S]o for that reason they convince[d] my daughter to keep quiet[,] if not she would be expelled[. T]hey failed to protect my daughter and she has not been her self ever since[. P]lease help me share so we can get all the staff involved to be accountable for failing to do their job protecting our children.”
According to the Rialto Police Department, on February 16, the department was told that a 15-year-old girl at Carter High had been sexually assaulted by a 17-year-old student on what the department said was “several times over the past three months. When detectives investigated the allegations they learned there were two additional female students, ages 15 and 16, who were sexually assaulted by the same suspect. As mandated reporters, both Harris and Yang are required by California State Law to immediately alert law enforcement of child abuse or neglect.”
The police department statement did not mention McMillon.
Any reference to McMillon was left out of a statement provided to the press by San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson, who said that Yang’s and Harris’s failure to act destroyed “the trust that students and parents alike should have regarding the safety and protection of all the children in their care. Their failure as mandated reporters to notify law enforcement lead [sic] to further victimization of two students, and the sexual assault of a third victim, which was preventable.”
Similarly, the Rialto Unified School District made no reference to Wilmer Amina Carter High School Principal Robin McMillon in its official statement, which held that “The safety and well-being of students is our number one priority.” The allegations against Yang and Harris, the district said, were being “taken with extreme seriousness. The district will continue its internal investigation until all the facts related to this matter are brought to light. We will also continue to work with local authorities as they conduct their own investigation.”
Yang and Harris-Dawson, upon being booked, were initially being held on $150,000 bail. Each spent Wednesday night and early Thursday morning in jail. Harris was released shortly before 6 a.m. Thursday morning, after someone posted bail on her behalf. Yang was let go after a bond was pledged on his behalf around 9 a.m.
Neither had returned to their positions at the high school by this morning.
Yang was previously a math teacher and had served as an assistant principal elsewhere. This was his first academic year at Carter High. He has a master’s degree in educational administration from Concordia University and is currently pursuing his doctorate in education at Cal State University Fullerton.
Harris-Dawson had been with Carter High as assistant principal two years previously, in 2019-20 and 2020-21, starting her third year there in August. She has a bachelor’s degree in history and secondary education, and received her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction with an administrative credential from the University of Redlands, and has a secondary master’s degree from Azusa Pacific in library science.
A criminal defense attorney told the Sentinel that charging Yang and Harris-Dawson with the felony perpetrated by the juvenile student at the school is a novel use of the criminal and educational codes, which will complicate the matter considerably beyond what would be the case if they had simply been charged with the misdemeanor mandated reporter notification failures which clearly apply, given the known circumstances.
It is doubtful either will ever work in the educational field again, unless each is willing to invest upwards of $200,000 in waging a criminal defense against the charges now lodged against them, a school district employee said.
McMillon ignored a Sentinel request for a statement and did not consent to have her lawyer speak on her behalf.
-Mark Gutglueck

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