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Prosecutor found allegations against former teacher "disturbing"

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KINGS MILLS, OH (FOX19) -

Evidence in the abuse investigation involving former special needs teacher Amanda Kitcho reached the desk of Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell, he confirms to FOX19's investigative team. However, because no child suffered "serious physical harm" Fornshell says there was no basis to charge Kitcho with a felony and he declined to prosecute her.

Fornshell called the allegations, which he says included a whistleblower saying Kitcho verbally abused several students, "disturbing." But he said there was no criminal wrongdoing that he could find.

Fornshell also revealed that the initial report came to his office, which he forwarded to sheriff's investigators.

Sources connected with Columbia Elementary, the Kings Local School District institution where Kitcho taught until the superintendent suspended her a year ago, approached FOX19 with the allegations of physical and emotional abuse months ago. For the first time, though, those allegations are detailed in a new lawsuit filed by a taxpayer activist who's a member of COAST.

Meanwhile today, FOX19 was given new information showing that Kitcho is now a part-time member of the pastor's staff at a Tri-State church. We are currently working to learn more about her employment situation there and will update you on our newscast tonight following Pres. Obama's State of the Union Address.

Also today, FOX19 obtained a copy of the guidelines for reporting child abuse in the Kings Local School District. It explicitly says in the first paragraph that school employees who suspect abuse "shall not contact the child's family."

Fornshell, the prosecutor, tells FOX19 he's not aware of any Ohio law that forces school officials to notify parents, though he added with a laugh that there's obviously a question about what's the best practice in these situations.

"I know as a parent what my preference would be," Fornshell said, adding that the issue was one for local school board members to decide.

Kings Board President, Bonnie Baker-Hicks, released this statement to FOX19:

The Kings Administration complies with Ohio Law in regards to providing notice to law enforcement and communicate with parents as appropriate when a school employee suspects that a child's physical or mental health or welfare may be adversely affected by abuse or neglect. 

In regards to the report that aired on FOX19 yesterday evening, a thorough investigation was conducted by the district and by the Warren County Sheriff's Office.  Neither the District's investigation nor the law enforcement investigation revealed any child abuse. The teacher is not facing any further law enforcement investigation or criminal charges.

This is a breaking story. FOX19 will have much more information for you following Pres. Obama's State of the Union Address tonight, and check back here for updates, as well.

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