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Small waited two months to report cousin's sleepovers with student, records show

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An investigation by Atlantic City’s school board solicitor into the employment of a now-admitted sex offender ignored several pieces of information, a review of documents by BreakingAC found.

That includes that a school administrator waited more than two months to report that Kayan Frazier was having a student sleep at his home, in violation of school policy.

The case has become a political powder keg with a lawsuit filed by the victim's mother last week naming the administrator, La'Quetta Small and her husband, Mayor Marty Small.

Activist Steve Young has called for residents to come out to Tuesday night's board meeting in force. But BreakingAC has learned security is limiting in-person attendance to 15 people.

The public can also attend via Zoom.

Frazier is in federal prison awaiting sentencing in a child pornography case that included him creating images and videos showing the sexual abuse of that same Atlantic City student.

Frazier met the boy through his work at Pennsylvania Avenue School sometime in late 2016.

He was terminated in April 2017, after the school’s then-principal, La’Quetta Small, reported that he had a student sleep at his home and shared a bed.

The case garnered new attention last year, after then-board President John Devlin questioned why the board was never notified of Frazier’s 2019 arrest on child pornography charges, nor the circumstances surrounding his termination in 2017.

The split board voted in October to have an independent investigation into the issue.

But board solicitor Tracy Riley had already started her own investigation, insisting that outside counsel was unnecessary.

In an eight-page report based upon her halted probe, Riley basically cleared Small of any wrongdoing, and instead cast doubt on the contract the district currently has with the company that provides its substitutes, Source4Teachers, which now goes by ESS.

Riley notes that it was Dr. Small who first reported any issues with her cousin.

Small filed a complaint Feb. 25, 2017, saying she found out Frazier had a third-grader sleep at his home

Feb. 12, and then came to the school the next day to take the child back home with him.

Both violate state statute, she noted in her report. At that time, Small suggested Frazier be removed from the school.

But what Riley’s report doesn’t mention is that Small already had removed Frazier from teaching at Pennsylvania Avenue School in December 2016, after continued off-school contact with the boy.

In a timeline Small provided to Superintendent Barry Caldwell on Oct. 7, 2020, she noted that she first learned Frazier was off-property with a student in early December 2016.

Emails obtained by BreakingAC via an Open Public Records Act request show that Pennsylvania Avenue School secretary Davinee Brumfield wrote Source4Teachers on Dec. 13, 2016, asking that Frazier be removed from the “long-term floater teacher position,” and notes that he didn’t work in the school that day.

An hour later, Dr. Small also sent the company an email saying, “Kayan Frazier is not working at PAS and he is not able to remove himself from the position to accept other openings.”

That email then cleared the way for Frazier to accept positions at other schools within the district.

When Small made her complaint in February, there was the option of asking that Frazier be removed from the district, but she chose the option of “remove from school,” a school he had not been assigned to in more than two months by that time.

In the two weeks after Small filed the complaint, Frazier worked eight days at four different city schools: Uptown Complex, Sovereign Avenue, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Complex and Texas Avenue.

The district’s Inappropriate Staff Conduct Policy also requires that the superintendent be notified of all reports.

But there are no emails showing that Small forwarded her complaint to then-interim Superintendent Paul Spaventa.

Spaventa is named as a defendant in the lawsuit last week that also names Frazier, the superintendent and the school board.

There is no indication that law enforcement was ever notified, as the state statute seems to require.

The Department of Children and Families’ Institutional Abuse Investigation Unit did conduct an investigation.

Before their determination, Small sent a follow-up email March 15, 2017, saying that she had just learned Frazier was still having the child sleep over, and that the boy was sleeping in bed with him.

She also noted the parent of a fifth-grade student called to complain that her son was up late March 13, 2017, texting with Frazier.

Small said Frazier insisted he was texting the mother’s phone to ask if he could take the child to Skyzone.

But, Small confirmed it was the child’s phone and not his mother’s.

On March 16, 2017, the Department of Children and Families emailed the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s

Office saying that a district employee “expressed concerns with Kayan Frazier’s interactions with a student (but that) … further investigation found no evidence of abuse or neglect.”

“Additionally, the student did not disclose any information warranting further investigation by this office and the matter was closed,” the email concluded.

That same month, Frazier uploaded the first sexually explicit images of the minor victim, according to the federal complaint.

Frazier was eventually fired by Source4Teachers. Months later, the Department of Children and Families — the same state agency that investigated the prior claims — hired Frazier as a caseworker.

A criminal investigation finally began in February 2019, sparked by a tip from the micro-blogging site Tumblr, which had suspended an account later traced to Frazier for violating its content policy by uploading sexually explicit images.

Riley’s report does not use any information from the criminal complaint.

Instead, she previously told the board that a protective order kept “information relating to the case inaccessible unless directly involved in the case.”

But that is inaccurate.

The protective order only kept certain evidence out of the public realm. Both the affidavit from the initial charges by the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office and the subsequent federal complaint remain accessible to the public.

BreakingAC has copies of both, which were obtained at the time the charges were first filed.

Meanwhile, the independent investigation undertaken by Porzio, Bromberg & Newman appears to have quietly come to an end.

Because the board was split on hiring outside counsel, a compromise put a $50,000 cap on payment to the firm.

That has already been reached, according to discussions at last month’s meeting.

But sources tell BreakingAC that much of the cost was due to hours logged trying to get the district to cooperate with the investigation.

It took four months to even get Riley’s investigative file, BreakingAC has learned.

And only about 11 of 44 record requests were answered.

Porzio has only been permitted to talk during executive sessions, which are closed to the public.

It was there that they were reportedly told to cease their investigation.

Porzio is again listed on the executive session agenda for Tuesday night’s school board meeting.


Lynda Cohen

Lynda Cohen founded BreakingAC after working as a local newspaper reporter for more than two decades. She is an NJPA award-winner and was a Stories of Atlantic City fellow.

Sunday, June 16, 2024
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