Special Reports

SRS to review contacts with Adam Herrman

A state senator has asked the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services to conduct an audit of any contact it had with Adam Herrman over the years.

State Sen. Jean Schodorf, R-Wichita, said Friday that she has asked Don Jordan, secretary of SRS, to undertake the audit regarding Adam, who disappeared in 1999 at age 11 from his Towanda home. Authorities only recently discovered his disappearance.

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

"Were there signs that this child needed to be taken out of the home, and the state didn't see this? What role did the state play, and did they lose him?"

"It is just a mystery," she said.

"Maybe everything was done correctly."

SRS is conducting a "very thorough review," spokeswoman Michelle Ponce said.

"We will be cooperating fully with any criminal investigation," she said.

The Eagle has filed a request with SRS under the state's open-records law for information about Adam.

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

After the 1996 report, Adam was removed from the home of his adoptive parents, Doug and Valerie Herrman, and spent two days at the Wichita Children's Home before being returned to the Herrmans.

Schodorf said she also has questions about how Adam ended up being withdrawn from a Derby public school and being home-schooled by his adoptive mother around the time he disappeared.

The state does not require records of students who are home-schooled, said Dea Lieber, general counsel for the State Department of Education. State law requires only that a home school provide its name and address, she said. State records show a Herrman School with a Derby address, listed as a non-accredited private school as of January 1998.

Schodorf said it is too soon to tell whether more scrutiny is needed when children are withdrawn from school.

"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."