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Beaten boy sent back to dad

BY Carolyn Muyskens - cmuyskens@chronicle-tribune.com

Charges have been filed against an Eastbrook Community Schools counselor after the prosecutor’s office says she failed to report the physical abuse of a 5-year-old boy.

The counselor, Jennifer Jarck, also released the child back to the man who the child said had struck him, according to court documents.

The 5-year-old boy had bruising over his face and ear and broken blood vessels near one of his eyes when he went to school at Eastbrook North Elementary on Dec. 19, 2018, according to Grant County Prosecutor Rodney Faulk.

After the boy told Jarck that his father, Jeremy Smoot, had hit him, Jarck called Smoot and asked him to come pick up the boy from school, according to Faulk.

“She released the child back to the father, putting the child right back in harm’s way,” Faulk said.

Jarck told a coworker that she did not report the abuse to the Department of Child Services (DCS) because she was in an “awkward position” since a family member of the child works at the school, according to court documents.

Smoot told police the counselor said that she “was going to report it but chose not to” and that she would report it if it happened again.

Eastbrook Superintendent Brett Garrett issued a statement late Thursday reading, “The Eastbrook Community Schools Corporation was informed this afternoon that the Marion City Court issued an arrest warrant for an Eastbrook employee. Because student safety is paramount, the Eastbrook Community Schools Corporation will take all necessary actions to address this matter. In the meantime, the Eastbrook Community Schools Corporation will have no further comment to ensure the employee’s statutory and constitutional rights are protected.”

Jarck has been charged with failure to make a report, a Class B misdemeanor. Smoot has been charged with battery resulting in injury against a child, a Level 5 felony.

Police and DCS workers were originally tipped off to the battery by an anonymous call.

The prosecutor said Jarck’s failure to act “shows a disregard for the law.” “She had a duty and she failed to do that,” Faulk said.