Principal pleads not guilty to failing to report child abuse

WARWICK, R.I. (AP) — A Rhode Island elementary school principal has pleaded not guilty to a charge of failing to report child abuse.

Colleen Mercurio, principal of Cedar Hill Elementary School in Warwick, pleaded not guilty today to the misdemeanor charge.

Her lawyer, Thomas Gulick, says his client has never been subject to disciplinary action in 15 years as an administrator, and that she always contacted child welfare authorities when required.

Police have said a parent filed a complaint about an alleged incident of student-on-student sexual abuse from November 2016. They say they determined that Mercurio was aware of it but failed to report it to the state Department of Children, Youth and Families within 24 hours.

Mercurio, 55, of Saunderstown, has been on paid administrative leave since mid-October.

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