Archive for Monday, January 12, 2009

Audit regarding missing boy sought

January 12, 2009


— State officials plan to conduct a review of whether they had any contact with a Kansas boy who went missing a decade ago but whose disappearance wasn’t noted until this month.

State Sen. Jean Schodorf, R-Wichita, said she’s asked Don Jordan, secretary of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services to conduct the audit regarding Adam Herrman.

Adam, then 11, disappeared from his Towanda home in 1999. Authorities only recently found out he was missing.

“We need to ... find out if indeed the state or the system lost this child somewhere,” said Schodorf, the Senate assistant majority leader.

She said she wanted to know whether there were signs that authorities needed to take Adam out of the home and if the state played a part in his disappearance by not acting on them.

“It is just a mystery,” she said. “Maybe everything was done correctly.”

Michelle Ponce, spokeswoman for the department, said SRS is conducting a “very thorough review” and would cooperate with any criminal investigation.

The department and Derby police said they investigated at least two reports of suspected abuse of Adam in 1996 and 1998.

Adam was in protective custody for two days following the 1996 report, but was returned to his adoptive parents, Valerie and Doug Herrman, after authorities reviewed the evidence and found the report unsubstantiated, Ponce said.

Schodorf also pointed out that Adam’s adoptive parents withdrew him from a Derby public school and began home-schooling him around the time of his disappearance.

State law requires home schools to provide their name and address but doesn’t require records of students who are home-schooled, said Dea Lieber, general counsel for the Kansas Department of Education. State records show a Herrman School with a Derby address, listed as a nonaccredited private school in January 1998.

Schodorf said she isn’t pushing for changing the laws to increase scrutiny when children are withdrawn from school — at least, not yet.

“I think we’ve got to piece together this boy’s life and then decide if the state needs to change their regulations,” she said. “And it’s probably too hard to tell now.”


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