Thursday, February 23, 2017

Molestation scandal in Perry schools shows the need for change

In addition to charging the actual child molester himself, "law enforcement officials have also filed charges against Principal Kenda Miller and teacher Jeffrey Sullins for failing to report suspected abuse," The Oklahoman points out.
Law enforcement officials indicate more school officials may face similar charges. 
Police only became aware of the situation in January when the parents of two students informed them that Cowen had allegedly touched their children inappropriately. Police subsequently learned Miller had received multiple complaints about Cowen for roughly a month before police were contacted, yet Miller and teachers dismissed those complaints. They insisted the children were lying, and didn't report the abuse allegations to police as required by law. 
One hopes this is a worst-case scenario, but the culture of silence that grants a child molester free rein in a public school occurs too often. In many cases, teachers and other school employees suspected of abuse are allowed to quietly resign and obtain employment in other schools. 
State law allows schools to notify the state Board of Education of those situations, but doesn't require even temporary revocation of a suspected child abuser's teaching license at that point. Furthermore, schools that don't notify the state board of suspected abuse are actually granted protection from lawsuits. 
As we've noted before, that law needs teeth. Otherwise, cases such as the one in Perry may only multiply. 
This incident also highlights why parents ought to have the right to use the tax dollars allocated for their children's education to send those kids to the school of their choice. 
There are numerous parents in Perry who now have good reason to worry about their children's safety in their local school. The neglect was enormous, and systemic failure involving multiple school officials abetted child abuse.

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