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Cylke: Staff unaware of abuse to victim

July 9, 2013

A photograph of 10-year-old Aleida DePina hangs on a chain-link fence near a makeshift memorial in front of her home on Tuesday. Photo/Ernest A. Brown

PAWTUCKET — The principal and staff at the Elizabeth Baldwin Elementary School, where 10-year-old murder victim Aleida DePina had just finished the fourth grade, had not been aware of any abuse going on at home, says Schools Supt. Deborah Cylke.
Cylke noted that the investigation into the tragic beating death of Aleida, allegedly at the hands of her own father, is ongoing and said she could not comment about any specifics regarding the case. She said her involvement had mostly been to provide detectives with the names of school personnel who had come into contact with the young student so they could be interviewed.
However, the school superintendent told the Times that to the best of her knowledge, there had been no report made by anyone involved with the school about suspected abuse involving Aleida. “If abuse is reported to us, by law, we have to report it to DCYF,” said Cylke, referring to the state Department of Children, Youth and Families.
Pawtucket Police also said there had been no prior complaint about abuse or neglect involving 32-year-old Jorge DePina, who has been charged with second-degree murder, along with child abuse and cruelty/neglect.
DePina was arrested after bringing his daughter's lifeless body to Miriam Hospital on July 3. An autopsy showed the girl died of blunt force trauma to the abdomen, and police and prosecutors say her body was covered in both new and old bruises, abrasions, and marks from possible cigarette burns.
Aleida DePina had reportedly been living alone with her father for the past two years, while her mother has reportedly been in her native Cape Verde. Father and daughter shared a first-floor apartment at 48 Knowles St., just a few blocks away from the Baldwin School on Whitman Street.
Cylke said that according to information she had received from Baldwin school staff, Aleida had a good attendance record, and was described as “quiet and shy, but not withdrawn.” She added that the staff, upon learning of the tragedy just days after the school year ended on June 26, was “overwhelmed with grief because nobody saw this.”
Cylke added that the school's principal, Joan Diorio, had had some conversations with Jorge DePina during the course of Aleida's time at the school. However, she reiterated that there was no record of any teacher or other staff member noting any kind of abuse or neglect situation where the girl is concerned.
Cylke said that Diorio and the Baldwin School staff had met on Monday, and all wanted to express publicly that they were “deeply saddened” by Aleida's untimely death. She said Diorio had spoken to one of the young girl's relatives and asked how the school staff could be of assistance. The staff intends to make a financial contribution to Aleida's family to help pay for her funeral services, once the arrangements are known, Cylke said.
Follow Donna Kenny Kirwan on Twitter@KirwanDonna

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