COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. (WRIC) — Approximately one year after Colonial Heights Public Schools (CHPS) School Board members said they were first made aware of accusations of inappropriate contact with students by then-police chief Jeff Faries in his capacity as the girls softball coach, the school division has addressed claims that the allegations were mishandled.

In a statement sent to 8News Friday, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Cyndi Williams said that the School Board had reviewed “various allegations that Colonial Heights Public Schools covered up or ignored complaints concerning the former softball coach.” The statement came in conjunction with the announcement of a temporary replacement for Superintendent Dr. William Sroufe.

On Feb. 17, school leaders wrote in a social media post that the CHPS School Board and Dr. Sroufe had “come to a mutual separation agreement,” and that he would be taking a leave of absence, concluding with his departure from the school division on June 30. School Board members have not shed light on the reason for the separation.

“Today the Colonial Heights School Board voted to enter into a contract with Dr. Joseph Cox to serve as Interim Superintendent.  The Board has also voted to work with the Virginia School Board Association to conduct the search for the permanent Superintendent.  The Board would like to thank Mr. Troy Hedblom for serving as Short-term Interim Superintendent until the interim was named.

The Colonial Heights School Board has reviewed various allegations that Colonial Heights Public Schools covered up or ignored complaints concerning the former softball coach.  The review included conducting interviews with the High School employees involved and a search of electronic records; and the Board has found no evidence that CHPS employees covered up or ignored complaints from coaches, students, or students’ parents.  However, after reviewing the matter, the Board believes that CHPS policy can be improved; and the Board looks forward to implementing a new or revised policy as it progresses in its work.”

Statement from Colonial Heights Public Schools on Feb. 24

In December, Del. Mike Cherry, who represents the City of Colonial Heights and part of Chesterfield County, told 8News that he requested Virginia State Police’s (VSP) assistance in investigating allegations that the accusations against Faries — when initially brought to the attention of school officials — were mishandled.

“When did the school know what?” Cherry said at the time. “An assistant softball coach has come forward and said that she notified them, in writing, of these allegations and others back in ’21.”

A VSP spokesperson confirmed their communication and said the agency was reviewing Cherry’s request for an investigation. But the agency’s spokesperson did not respond to 8News’ request for comment on Tuesday about whether that investigation was ever conducted.

Del. Cherry, however, said that while he didn’t “have a specific comment on the school division’s statement,” he did “appreciate them taking the matter seriously.”

The school division’s handling of the allegations against Faries was called into question because of a special prosecutor’s statement that there was evidence that a crime was committed, but the statute of limitations had passed and it was too late to charge the former police chief and softball coach.

A timeline of events can be found here.

8News reached out to CHPS for additional information on proposed policy changes and implementation, but has not received a response.