Perry principal, teacher resign after accusations of hiding child abuse

PERRY, Okla. – A Perry school principal and a teacher have resigned after allegations they both failed to report child abuse or neglect.

The Perry Public School Board of Education met Monday night to vote on whether or not to accept the resignations of 5th grade math teacher Jeffrey Sullins and Upper Elementary School Principal Kendra Miller.

The board approved the resignation agreements, KFOR crews confirmed.

Miller and Sullins each face misdemeanor counts after failing to report accusations of sexual abuse against their students.

Police arrested 85-year-old teaching assistant Arnold Cowen earlier this year on accusations he inappropriately touched at least seven girls.

Arnold Cowen

The assistant chief told NewsChannel 4 at least 20 children may have been victims, likely over the course of several years.

At least 10 students may have been victimized in 2017, according to court documents, when Perry Upper Elementary School Principal Miller dismissed past allegations and failed to notify police or the victim’s parents.

Students as young as 10 complained Cowen fondled them and touched their breasts, according to arrest affidavits, sometimes during “lengthy hugs and inappropriate touches.”

According to court documents, Miller fielded multiple complaints from students but told them they had to be accidental.

“Principal Kenda Miller tells her that it’s possible, that Cowen has long arms and, when he reaches around to hug her, his long arms touch her boobs,” one student told police, according to the affidavit. “Principal Kenda Miller tells her to refrain from hugging Cowen and to only ‘fist bump’ him.”

As a result, students told police they were afraid to tell their parents about the interactions and often would cry in the bathroom.

During interviews with other teachers, police were told “Cowen was definitely the victim of false accusations and he was a model instructor and of great help to the school.”

Miller told police, according to court documents, police were not told of the complaints because they were “deemed to be false by her staff and herself. Stating, ‘we have had these allegations on Cowen before, but we determined they were fabricated by the students.’”

In interviews with police, Miller said Cowen’s of “great moral character and was a very ‘nice guy.”

Police said, when Sullins was told of inappropriate touching, he told the student she was “making stuff up,” at one point taking her into the hallway and calling her a liar, documents show.

“[The student] was escorted to the office to see Principal Kenda Miller, but since she was not available, [the student] was sent back to class, where she continued to work with Cowen,” according to the affidavit. “Sullins did allude to the fact that a majority of the teachers were aware of the incident/accusations.”

Cowen faces more than 20 counts of lewd or indecent acts to a child as well as child pornography possession charges.

Miller was charged with one misdemeanor count for failing to report child abuse or neglect.  Her court hearing is scheduled for April 27.

Sullins has been charged with two counts of failure to report child abuse or neglect.  He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Both Miller and Sullins had their teaching license revoked by the State Board of Education last month under emergency orders.

Kendra Miller, Jeffrey Sullins