BENTONVILLE (KFSM) – Former Bentonville school employee Ali Matar went before a circuit court judge Friday afternoon to reschedule his next appearance. Matar was jailed in May on suspicion of raping a five-year-old girl at R.E. Baker Elementary, along with sexually assaulting two six-year-old girls.
With a new school year starting in Bentonville on August 18, some parents are asking questions about the Adventure Club program. Bentonville parent Aimee Harviston said her two daughters were in Adventure Club from kindergarten through fifth grade.
“I think if Adventure Club can prove to parents that they have a better system in place, then maybe parents would feel more confident,” Harviston said.
She said she took her girls out of the program last year prior to the Matar incident.
“In years past they had a different instructor or teacher every single year,” She said, “So I know there’s a lot of rotation, and you never really feel comfortable after just one year.”
Bentonville school officials said in the spring that Adventure Club employees are supposed to work in pairs when around a single child. They said Matar was alone in the library in at least one of the incidents. Superintendent Michael Poore and Adventure Club officials declined to give an update Friday (Aug. 1) on the after-school program.
“It could happen anywhere, anytime unfortunately,” Harviston said, “Hopefully they’ll have a better system in place going forward.”
The Bentonville mother said for some parents after-school programs like Adventure Club is the only option. She said she is now a stay-at-home mom, and she’s glad she has that option.
“I would pull them out too, but having been there for so long and never having an issues…it was just one bad incident,” She said.
Heather Pree is also a mother with three children under the age of eight. She said she is lucky that her mother is able to watch her boys, because she doesn’t trust day cares or child watch programs.
“I feel safer with them with her,” Pree said, “Instead of somebody that I don’t know.”
Matar will be back in court on Sept. 19, until then he is behind bars at the Benton County Jail on a $250,000 bond.