Posts Tagged ‘Board of education’

Me:  “Excuse me, WHAT?  My stepdaughter is DATING a registered sex offender?”

Other parent:  “Yes.  And her Mother knows about it too.”

Over the past 12 years I have come to expect all types of ridiculous, drama-laden behavior from my husband’s ex, but this was a bit much.  I mean, she isn’t ever going to win any awards for parenting, but letting her daughter date a registered sex offender?  Even she couldn’t be THAT dumb!

My mistake.  This “mother” is indeed allowing her daughter to date a registered Sex Offender.  A Level 2 Registered Sex Offender.  Guilty of Sexual Solicitation of a Child.  But it’s even worse than that.  This woman is a high school English teacher.  She not only allows her daughter to date this guy, but she allowed him (at least once, although I am told on more than one occasion) to sit in her classroom for an entire class period.  How is this even possible?  Why would a registered sex offender even be allowed on campus?  Worse yet, one of his victims was in that class.  How must it have felt for the young girl?  By law she must attend class, yet there she sits, watching as the teacher and her daughter cut-up and carry on with her perpetrator during class time.

After speaking with a couple of parents directly involved as well as the parents of the above mentioned girl, I called the Superintendent of our school district.  She seemed to very upset to hear what I had to share.  She assured me that there was no way any sex offender should EVER be allowed on school grounds without her personal knowledge and her permission.  She asked me to call the Principal of the High School.  Given my personal history of dealing with school administrators when my daughter was having trouble with this same teacher, I declined.  I explained that my interest was in making sure that she, as the Superintendent, knew of the situation, and could get it investigated and handled appropriately.  I told her that the parents of the student had contacted the school resource officer and the investigator that worked the case.  They intended to pursue resolution from the legal/criminal side.  The Superintendent asked if the parents would call the Principal and I assured her they would.  She said that she would make the Principal aware that the call would be coming.

When one of the parents called the Principal, she was more than a little disappointed by what he had to report.  He advised her that the teacher’s response was admission that the young man had indeed been in her classroom. She stated he was only in her classroom for a few minutes, having stopped by with her daughter.  The teacher went on to say the only reason the student was upset about him being there because she used to “date” him and her daughter is now dating him.  Based on the teacher’s interpretation of the student having previously “dated” the offender it is clear that she doesn’t seem to comprehend the seriousness of the offense.  Then again, given the history of this teacher, perhaps she truly sees all of this as acceptable behavior.

What will be the outcome of all of this?  How can any of this be allowed?  Our School Board recently relieved a coach of his duties due to inappropriate language being used with his girls softball team.  Isn’t knowingly allowing a Registered Sex Offender on campus a more serious offense than that?  And what about having him come in a back entrance, so his presence is unknown to the Resource Officer and administrators?  The fact that this teacher would welcome a registered sex offender into her classroom, especially where she is aware (by her own admission) of the prior relationship between this man and one of her students is nothing less than appalling.  It is unprofessional and unethical, to say the least, and in my opinion, shows an absolute disregard for the safety and welfare of all students on campus.

This is all being watched with great interest by several people in our community.  In part because there are so many facets to the situation.  Didn’t the sex offender commit another crime by even being at the school?  Can’t the teacher be prosecuted for knowingly exposing God knows how many students to a registered sex offender?  What about allowing her minor child to date him?  Isn’t there a liability issue for the school with the student being exposed to her perpetrator? With many students being exposed to him?  And ultimately, is this the kind of behavior we will accept in our schools?  Is this the kind of person we want standing up in front our kids, influencing them every day?  How long is all this going to be allowed to go on?

From time to time, when I really get to thinking about all that has happened with the school district as it relates to my husband’s ex, my mind wanders to the “mandatory reporters.”  Where are these people?  Who are they required to report to?  Why have they gotten away with NOT reporting?  So many questions, so few answers.

When my daughter was in high school, what caused her so much grief was that SHE was reporting a teacher who was known to have sex with students.  She told the administration on many occasions.  She told the Superintendent straight to her face about this teacher.  She sat with my attorney as I stood in front of the district Board of Education and not only told them, but we provided documentation from this teacher’s own testimony in family court about her relationship with one young man.  In the end, my daughter was the one punished.  Ostracized.  Alone.

The man who was the principal at that time has since retired.  He knew.  He had been this teacher’s principal when she was in high school.  They had been friends for many years.  His wife, also a teacher at this same high school – both when the ex was in high school and at the school my daughter attended where the ex was (and still is) a teacher – was also a close friend.  Can one honestly be expected to believe that neither of them knew about this woman’s history with students?  Especially with as much time as they spent together both in and out of the school setting.  Impossible.  Regardless, they were both mandatory reporters.

What about this teacher’s sister?  Once again, also a teacher at this same high school.  For many years their classrooms were right next to each other.  Is it possible that this sister was unaware of her sisters sexual habits with students?  Possibly.  But I find that unlikely.  The teacher and the student would often make trips to the home town of these sisters, visiting a family member, to spend together and avoid being seen in this area.  This sister is also the woman who called my husband the day after he got the test results that the third child wasn’t his and tried to shame him for uncovering that truth.  She is still a teacher at the high school and she is and always has been required to report suspected abuse.

Years ago, when my husband was first told about the rumors of the ex having sex with some of the football boys, he went to the administration of that small school.  Once again, mandatory reporters.

So what I wonder about often is exactly WHO is it these mandatory reporters are supposed to report suspected abuse to?  What happens to them if they don’t?  Clearly the list of people who stood by, knew this was going on – or strongly suspected it – and did nothing.  Actually, that’s not true.  What they did was allow countless students to be sexually and emotionally abused.  They promoted the exploitation of countless students by keeping quiet.  They are guilty of professional misconduct too.  But what happens to them?  In the case of the former principal and his wife, both are now retired.  Drawing a pension from teaching.  Personally, I don’t care how many years they taught, I don’t believe any of them should get one red cent of that State retirement.  They shirked their responsibilities to the students, their parents, the tax payers.

And what of the teacher who has sex with students?  What will the school district and the state board of education say when it is made known that the father of one of her children was a student of hers at the time of conception?  In this state, she cannot be prosecuted as the boys are all now over the age of 21 and the statute of limitations has expired.  Will she have her teaching license revoked?  Or will they try to quietly urge her to move to another district?  They did this before (she actually called my husband and told him that!) but she wasn’t smart enough to go. Maybe they will put another note in her personnel file that says she is not allowed to be around male students outside of the school setting?  (yes, she told my husband about this too and it was even discussed in family court.)  What is their liability in all of this?  What I really want to know is how do they live with themselves?

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)

Recently, I made a trip to my local big box hardware store.  The service was terrible.  The help anything but helpful.  As I stood at checkout I was voicing my thoughts to the woman cashier.  She quickly changed the conversation to the paint I was purchasing, telling me that the blue and the orange represented the colors of her son’s school.  Really? I asked, my son too.  Maybe our sons know each other she says.  Her son, she tells me, is a football player.  My son, I say, has autism and is in a special education classroom.

As we continue to chat, she tells me what a heart her son has for people with special needs.  She is proud of him.  This is all wonderful from my perspective.  I have loved people with special needs long before I had my son.  To hear of a teenage boy with this in his heart brought me joy.  What she said to me next made me angry and sick all at the same time.  She told me that her son had learned about people with special needs from what happened to his cousin, her nephew.   It seems that the young man (the nephew) had done something deemed a punishable offense in our local high school, during the last year before it split into two schools.  One of his teachers thought the appropriate “punishment” was for this young man to eat lunch for two weeks with the special education students.

My legs began to shake with anger, and my mouth – which usually has no trouble spitting out words – was suddenly silent.  What do you say in response to that?  Dumbfounded, I asked her to repeat what she had just said to me.  Unfortunately, I heard her right the first time.

What is it with people?  Why do so many of us fear and despise that which is different from us?  Or that which we don’t understand?  In the instance of people with disabilities, it seems especially heartless to me.  Maybe that’s because of my son.  I don’t know.  I have been around people with special needs most of my life.  The first special needs person I remember interacting with was a girl my age named Linda, when I was in second grade.  Linda had Downs Syndrome and was severely affected.  When I was finished with my classwork, I was allowed to go down to her classroom.  I guess it was a sort of “buddy system” and I think we both benefited from our time together.

Different is not bad.  It should be welcomed and encouraged.  Whether it be intellectual ability, race, religion, whatever.  Why would any school system continue to employ a so called “teacher” who would see the above behavior as appropriate?  Ah, I guess for the same reason they continue to employ a teacher known for having sex with students.  We wonder why society has the flaws it has and where our morals have gone.  What can we expect when this is the type of example we have as role models in our schools?  What can we expect when administrators know and refuse to do anything about it?  And let’s not forget the parents.  Shame on them for knowing what goes on in these schools and not doing anything about it.  If more people would speak up and come forward with what they know and have seen, change would be forced.

I do not know the name of the teacher who issued the above “punishment.”  But  I do believe in karma.  I do believe that when we choose to victimize others that comes back on us with incredible tenacity.  To the credit of the young man who was forced to sit with the special ed kids, he chose to remain with them.  I am told that for the rest of the year he ate his lunch with them.  Hopefully he continues to share his experience in a positive light.

I remember the day my daughter told me about a teacher at school who was having sex with students like it was yesterday.  We were in our kitchen.  Standing in front of the dishwasher in fact.  The next thing out of her mouth shocked me, and angered me – at her.  She said “and everybody knows about it.”

“EVERYBODY knows about it?  I don’t believe that”, I challenge.  “Other students maybe… but EVERYBODY…meaning other teachers, school administrators, parents even???”  My mind could not comprehend that and my heart would not accept it.  “Absolutely NOT!” I scolded her.  “I don’t believe that for a minute.  And YOU better be careful what you say.”  That was 10 years ago.  My daughter was correct.  This teacher was indeed having sex with students.  Plural.  It was, and still is, shocking to me.

Over the years I have learned a lot about the teachers who exhibit this behavior.  These people are almost always predators.  You will find the occassional teacher who considers themselves “in love” with their victim.  The male teachers are almost without exception punished much more severely than the women.  There are still so many stereotypes about “boys being boys” that it can be difficult to prosecute the female offenders.  Studies show the long-term psychological effects of young men being victimized in this manner are just as damaging to them, sometimes more so, as to young women.  (Read http://www.sesamenet.org/male_vics.html for more information on male victims.  S.E.S.A.M.E – Stop Educators Sexual Abuse, Misconduct and Exploitation www.sesamenet.org is in my opinion, one of the best organizations today working to bring attention to educator abuse.)

Let’s jump back to the case of the teacher I reference above.   She has a history of this behavior going back to when she began her student teaching.  She still teaches today.  The school district she now teaches at is well aware of her history.  THAT is what was and still is most shocking, upsetting and disappointing to me.  They not only didn’t fire this woman, in actuality, they protected her.

Sadly again, what I have learned over the years is that schools protecting these teachers is common practice.  This is quite appropriately called “Passing the trash.”  (Check out http://www.lvrj.com/opinion/-passing-the-trash-in-public-schools-117893284.html)  Schools will approach a teacher known or suspected of being inappropriately involved with students and discretely ask them to leave the district.  In exchange, the district gives a good recommendation to the next district about the teacher.  Laws are changing but depending on which state you live in, they vary greatly.

My daughter wasn’t sexually abused at school, but she was harassed, intimidated, threatened.   She didn’t deserve that.  She was telling the truth.  How many more kids are there like my daughter?  Kids who speak up about a serious issue, only to be shot down.  My daughter didn’t give up until she had given me enough proof, enough stories that could be collaborated, enough names, that I believed her.  We fought a good fight, for a long while, to get things changed.  We didn’t win the battle.  We tried hard, but came up short.  But I promise you this, in spite of losing a few battles, in the end, we WILL win the war.

Recent research shows that the number of women being put in prison is increasing at twice the rate of men. One-third of these women to prison on drug charges; two-thirds are mothers to small children. I never really thought about women in prison. Until about 4 years ago.

My daughter, age 25, is currently serving time in a correctional center.  She is not there on drug charges, however her issues stem from prescription drug addiction.  My daughter is an intelligent, loving and creative person – when she is drug free. When pills are involved, she is a completely different person.  I guess this is typical behavior when someone is addicted.

Most of her growing up years, my daughter was a typical kid.  She excelled in school, was involved in extracurricular activities at school and in the community, and active in church. She dreamed of being a doctor.  Her father and I are divorced and she has a younger brother who is severely affected by autism, but for the most part, she handled these things fairly well.  She was always a happy girl, funny too.  I remarried when she was 14 to someone she insisted I meet.  He was, and still is, a good father figure to her and her brother.  So what happened?

When she was 15, I had to remove her from the Public School system due to issues surrounding a teacher on staff who has a history of having
sex with students.  We pushed the issue to get it addressed, but nothing was ever done.  We went to the School Board.  I wrote to people on a State and National level.  Bottom line, we couldn’t prove it, so there was nothing we could do about it.

One day in particular, my daughter left school and we couldn’t locate her.  Because of her depressed state we worried that she would commit suicide.  Turns out she had been to the High School administration office, to the Superintendent’s office, to the School Board President’s office and lastly, to see our attorney at the time.  All of these adults told her the same thing: they could not help her.  There was “nothing they could do.”  Is it any wonder she has so little respect for authority?  The people she counted on to help her – including myself and my husband – were unable to.

She went into a deep depression and in the interest of her well-being, I removed her from public school to be home schooled until she was old enough to get her GED.  Looking back, this was probably the worst thing I could have done, but it seemed there were no other options.  Surrounding schools wouldn’t take students not living in their district, I couldn’t afford to put her back in private school, and leaving her at our public school was not an option.  Having lost her circle of friends and support system, which would be traumatic for any teenager, she began to hang out with older kids who were already out of school.  She was in pain and unfortunately she found unhealthy ways of dealing with it.

We insisted she get her GED and go to work.  She was loved at her jobs, but she was already addicted to the prescription medications.  It wasn’t long until she was in legal trouble, and that just seemed to snowball.  Next thing we know, she is in prison for fraudulent use of a credit card in the amount of around $4500.  No Boot Camp, no court-ordered drug treatment program, she went straight to a maximum security prison.  She was locked up with people you worry about as a parent.  Murderers, female sex offenders, drug manufacturers and dealers.  Her cellmate was a second time offender there for manslaughter and abuse of a corpse.  Shortly after enrolling her (maybe 2 months) in a long term  Therapeutic Community program they sent her home without having finished either the treatment program or her cosmetology certificate.  She had been there for over a year.  Upon release, a condition of her parole was to finish her cosmetology course.  Of course, it was the same for the other young women released so she ended up being surrounded by the people she most needs to avoid – other felons, specifically those she knew on the inside.

Please do not misunderstand; I truly believe my daughter – and anyone else who violates the laws of our society – needs to be held accountable for her actions. But I also believe people make stupid mistakes. And given the correct knowledge and tools, can overcome those mistakes.  My daughter was out in the “free world” as she calls it for almost a year before she was arrested on a parole violation.  They sent her back to prison for six months.  She then came back to await sentencing and was sent back again.  This time she was high on Klonopin.  Is it really in the best interest of our society to keep sending women like my daughter to prison?  And if we must send them to prison, shouldn’t we make a TRUE effort to give them the help they need to come out and have a fighting chance at being successful?  Otherwise, we may as well equip our prisons with revolving doors.

Oh, and that teacher I mention above…she is sitting on a beach right now.  Vacationing before she is back in school next month, standing in front of your child in the classroom, attempting to provide them with an education.  That’s a topic for another time.