Friday, February 24, 2012

Abuse Cases Put Los Angeles Schools Under Fire

This article about a flurry of sexual abuse cases in LA made the front page of today's NYT:

The arrest of a public school teacher here early this month came with plenty of vivid details, thanks to hundreds of photographs that the police say show the teacher covering the eyes and mouths of children with tape and allowing cockroaches to crawl over faces.

Those accusations alone were enough to prompt outrage. But more came: Another teacher at the same school was arrested on charges of sexually abusing children. Then came news reports that two aides at the school had been fired after being accused of abuse, and that one had been sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Within days, other allegations surfaced at schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District: A high school music teacher was removed after being accused of showering with students; a third-grade teacher was being investigated for more than a dozen accusations of sexual abuse; an elementary school janitor was arrested and accused of lewd acts against a child. And on Wednesday, a high school softball coach and special education teacher was arrested on charges of sending inappropriate messages to children over the Internet.

There is no evidence to suggest that these abuse accusations are connected. But they have put an intense spotlight on the way the district monitors its employees and responds to reports of abuse.

The accusations have raised fundamental questions for administrators: How does the sprawling district interact with local law enforcement agencies? Once school officials know about accusations of misconduct, when and how should parents be told? And how does the district track teachers who have been accused of wrongdoing but not convicted?

These allegations are shocking of course – but perhaps they shouldn't be.  Sadly, I'd be surprised if there wasn't A TON of sexual abuse in our big school systems, for three reasons: A) the law of large numbers; B) sorry to be crass, but if you're a sicko and want access to lots of kids to abuse, this is the way to do it (and it's a lot easier to get a job in the school system than become a priest; yes, I'm still upset by what I saw in Deliver Us from Evil ( and; and C) we know that this is a system that protects adults at all costs, even if it means kids get thrown under the bus. 


I think it's long overdue that this evil is being exposed, not only to protect other children from sexual predators, but also because it might bring about overall change that results in the interests of students being placed ABOVE the protection of adults (what a novel idea!).


To this point, Armand Fusco, former Superintendent of Education of both Massachusetts and Connecticut, wrote the following in response to my recent email about child sexual abuse:

Interesting, but isn't the fact that children held in the bondage of failing schools, being robbed of an education, and knowing that 50% will dropout and 80% will end up in prison child abuse when these children, while being held in bondage, are not guilty of any crimes?  Furthermore, the state allows it and we are talking about 7,200 being pushed out every day amounting to over 1,200,000 a year, but they have no advocates.  In fact, my book starts out with a story of an abused dog and how they will track find out who did it and hold that person accountable, PETA even has a strategic plan on how to handle dog abuse cases; I wish we had the same exact plan to prevent dropouts.  It's also interesting to note that in 1867 there were no advocates for child abuse, so when PETA found a child abused, they came to his rescue.  Children are not our first priority, they should be, but they are not.

Sorry to go on like this but I just get so frustrated with our educational system and the policymakers at all levels who allow this to take place and no one is ever held accountable--absolutely no one. 

PS—Keep your eye out for Fusco's new book out next month, School Pushouts: A Plague of Hopelessness Perpetrated by Zombie Schools, which chronicles the abuse of dropouts and what can be done at no cost to solve the problem.


Abuse Cases Put Los Angeles Schools Under Fire

Monica Almeida/The New York Times

A new staff has been placed at Miramonte Elementary after two teachers there were accused of sexual abuse.

Published: February 16, 2012 

 Subscribe in a reader