Dakota School to require additional mandatory reporting training - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Dakota School to require additional mandatory reporting training

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DAKOTA, MN (WXOW)-- A special education teacher at the La Crescent Montessori Academy, Jason Barker, faces charges of criminal sexual conduct involving students.

The academy is a charter school for students in grades K through 10 with about 60 students. It is not affiliated with the La Crescent-Hokah school district.

Barker also worked substitute teacher at Dakota Area Community School, prior to his job at La Crescent Montessori.

There are no reports of abuse at the Dakota school, but the school administrator says they are taking precautions and having staff review mandated reporting procedures.

The school always holds a mandated reporting training in August of every year, but in light of the allegations against Barker, staff will now take an additional online course.

"The training teaches them how to be vigilant and how to watch for signs of abuse of their students, whether that abuse is sourced in the school or whether it's some place outside the school," Leslie Hittner, the Dakota Area School Administrator. "They can be certified as having taken the training so it's a bit more formal than what we'd been doing prior to the school year."

Hittner said all prospective employees must sign a release for a background check. He says the school reviewed Barker's background check, and there was nothing involving children and no recent charges or convictions. That background check was conducted prior to May of 2012.

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