Thursday, February 22, 2018
Public safety

Director at Tampa youth organization accused of head-butting student

TAMPA — The site director of a nonprofit organization that helps troubled youth is accused of head-butting one of the students there, authorities said.

William Rysheen Chaney, 33, of Riverview was arrested about 1 p.m. Monday at the Tampa campus of AMIkids, an organization that provides residential and recreational programs and schooling to troubled youth.

According to police and school officials, Chaney had head-butted a student at the campus, 1730 Maritime Blvd. He faces charges of battery and child abuse and was released on $2,500 bail, according to jail records.

Chaney could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

AMIkids spokeswoman Sherri Ulleg said the school fired Chaney shortly after his arrest.

Chaney did not have any previous disciplinary issues in the year and a half that he served as the Tampa location's director of operations, Ulleg said.

In that role, he had regular contact with the program's students, who are all minors.

School officials said they were notified of the incident by the Florida Department of Children and Families' Abuse hotline, which had received a call from a student. The transcript of that call is confidential, and so details of the incident and name of the student involved were not available.

Usually, Ulleg said, when a student has an issue with the conduct of a teacher or staff member, AMIkids encourages the student to file a grievance through that particular campus. The complaint then is channeled up the chain of command until the problem is addressed, she said.

The AMIKids program boasts more than two dozen locations in Florida, and several more in Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, the Carolinas, Texas, New Mexico and Virginia. The organization, which runs a day treatment facility at the Tampa location, receives state, regional and private funding.

Students in day treatment are referred by juvenile justice agencies or the school district, according to a website for AMIKids. The program is co-ed and the students in it live at home while attending, usually for four to six months.

Times news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Marissa Lang can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 310-9133.

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