Charter School Principal Arrested for Failure to Report Abuse in Orlando
Orlando Science Charter School principal Abdulaziz Yalcin, 35, was arrested in January 2021 for failing to report suspected child abuse. The middle and high school principal now faces two third-degree felonies for turning a blind eye to the alleged abuse and instructing several other employees to do the same.
In early 2019, several students informed a dean that a school employee was requesting nude photos and partaking in sexually explicit conversations on the app Snapchat. Principal Yalcin was aware of the allegations and instructed teachers under him to also keep the information under wraps. Yalcin did not report the information to the police until at least a month later.
The state of Florida requires all educators to report suspected child abuse with the state immediately. In May 2019, after a school resource officer became aware of the accusations, Jaelen Alexander was arrested for solicitation of a minor and unlawful communication. Investigators think a distraught parent may have threatened to publicize the allegations, pushing Yalcin to notify the resource officer.
It is unclear why Mr. Yalcin was not arrested until a year and a half after the incident or if other employees could face charges. Yalcin has since been relieved of his duties with the school.
In 2017, Orange County Public Schools were contacted no fewer than five times with warnings of suspected misconduct at Orlando Science Charter School. One parent alleges their child has been unlawfully detained, interrogated, and harassed by the school staff. Another incident involved a student suffering a severe head injury and the school failed to call an ambulance.
Incidences of Abuse in Gulen-run Charter Schools
Yalcin’s arrest is only the latest in a string of alleged incidences of abuse, unlawful enrichment, and discrimination taking place at American charter schools across the country. All of the schools involved link back to a controversial Turkish cleric, who is an Islamic scholar, preacher, and founder of the Gulen movement, a 3-6 million strong force that Turkey has since outlawed as an alleged “armed terrorist group.”
Numerous other US charter schools affiliated with Gulen have appeared in scandals this past year, making Yalcin’s case the tip of a much larger iceberg. One Gulen movement-affiliated school in Illinois recently agreed to pay $4.5 million after an extensive federal investigation. These schools are known to have a culture of secrecy, so it is common for them to try to cover up any claims of abuse or mistreatment, but accusations are starting to pop up again and again across the network.
The Role of Educators in Responding to Child Abuse
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 13 boys will experience child sexual abuse at some point during their childhood. Each day, parents across the world place their children’s safety into the hands of educators, entrusting that they will be secure from predators. Although this is normally the case, sometimes people who don’t have kids’ best interests at heart slip through the cracks.
Like Florida, most states consider teachers and other school employees as mandated reporters. This means that teachers are legally required to report any signs of neglect or abuse of a child to the appropriate authorities right away. If you are a teacher, this means that you have a moral, and legal, obligation to protect the children that are released into your care each day. This responsibility is not to be taken lightly, so if you are in fear of your identity being linked to a report, know that you will remain anonymous in most cases.
Penalties for Failing to Report Child Abuse
In the state of Florida, if you fail to report any known instances of child abuse, you could face a felony of the third degree – resulting in up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000. Any Florida schools that fail to report suspected child abuse, neglect, or abandonment that occurred on school property, or prevents another person from reporting it, are subject to $1 million for each such failure.
Understanding Solicitation of a Minor in Florida
When someone is charged with the solicitation of a minor, the lewd or lascivious act does not actually have to take place for the prosecutor to file charges. Typically classified as a second- or third-degree felony, lewd or lascivious offenses committed on or in the presence of persons under 16 are penalized in Florida by:
- Up to 15 years in prison
- Registry as a sex offender
- Fine of up to $10,000
- Up to 15 years of probation
Traveling to meet with a minor or using a device like a computer or cell phone to solicit a minor can complicate the case and lead to even harsher charges.
Aside from the legal punishments for soliciting a minor, there are lifelong personal consequences that come with having a sex-offender status. Convicted sex offenders are limited with where they can work, live, and visit. Social shunning can also lead to feelings of isolation and depression.
Get Help from an Accomplished Sex Crime Attorney in Orlando
When you’re registered as a sex offender, your whole life gets flipped upside-down. The Umansky Law Firm believes nobody’s life should be defined by one mistake. Our team of criminal defense attorneys has over 100 years of combined experience defending countless Floridians in Central Florida.
Our lawyers know that it can feel like all hope is lost after being arrested, but The Umansky Law Firm’s personalized services will ensure that your case receives the attention it deserves. Our former experience as prosecutors and public defenders will help us identify any loopholes or soft spots in the case against you so that you have the best chance of getting the second chance you deserve. Call our office or complete one of our online contact forms for a free case evaluation today.