Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Reason breaks out in Columbus, Ohio?
This is a followup to a previous post regarding the refusal of school officials to call police after learning that a developmentally disabled girl had been forcibly gang-raped in a school auditorium during classes.
School, community leaders plan anti-violence summit
By SUE HAGAN
ThisWeek Staff Writer
Columbus Public Schools officials and community leaders plan to meet this summer to come up with strategies they hope will stem the culture of disrespect and violence in the city schools and in Columbus as a whole.
Well, I suppose the first step is admitting you have a problem, right?
According to police reports and testimony given to district officials, a developmentally disabled girl was sexually assaulted by at several boys in the Mifflin High School auditorium on March 9. The investigation also shows that another boy videotaped the incident and a number of students may have stood watching.
This is a troubled school district, and idiots like the former principal let it become this way.
Can any decent, normal individual see just standing by and watching a group of kids getting oral sex in the school during classes? How about when the one being forced to perform has a learning disability? Disgusting -- and a scary thought for those who live in the Columbus area: these kids will soon be adults . . .
On Tuesday, Columbus police were to have presented evidence to the city prosecutor's office regarding possible charges against the boys, and also have agreed -- at CPS Superintendent Gene Harris's urging -- to expand their investigation to determine whether school staff and administrators violated state law for not reporting the alleged assault to police or Franklin County Children's Services.
The first issue, whether the boys have committed a crime, comes down to the evidence and whether the DA thinks he can get a conviction for forcible oral sodomy, a felony.
The second issue is pretty darn clear cut. Under Ohio law, a professional educator (including principals and administrators) have a legal duty to report suspected child abuse (and yes, this would qualify under the law). My research on Westlaw indicates violation of this reporting requirement is a fourth degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to thirty days in jail plus costs and a fine of up to $250. In addition, Ohio courts have determined that a person who violates this can be held liable civilly and cannot claim immunity from suit. Problem is, in this instance, the refusal to report did not lead directly to this young lady's damages (unless you can establish a significant mental anguish claim based on feelings of betrayal, guilt, vulnerability, loss of self-worth, etc., based on the school administrations' refusal to call police). I'd think, however, that the failure to adequately supervise the students might be a decent cause of action (though the deep pockets of the school district are likely not reachable or are limited in their amount of liability by law). See Doe v. Roman, 2002 WL 31732468 (Oh.App. 5th Dist., 2002).
So, how can Columbus improve its' schools? Well, it would seem that, oh, ADOPTING A PLAN FOR DISCIPLINING UNRULY STUDENTS WOULD BE A GOOD START!
"Every school must have a discipline plan," said Rhonda Johnson, president of the CPS teachers' union. "And they (administrators) need to follow the 'Guide to Student Conduct,'" which lays out discipline issues and consequences.
"There needs to be a discipline school for the chronically disruptive student," she said, adding that formation of such a school has been a provision in the teachers' contract for some years, though it's never been launched.
I am aghast. I cannot fathom why (1) every shool does not have a discipline plan; (2) each school is not already required to follow district discipline policies; and (3) why there is no school for disruptive or ill-disciplined students. We've had that in every school district our kids have attended. Heck, I seem to remember it in my old school district twenty years ago.
Why on earth would the schools NOT have a separate place for kids who disrupt the lives of their fellow students? Unbelievable.
McGee Brown said that students learn from the atmosphere in which they grow up, and parents should be held responsible for their children's actions.
"These children don't come out of the womb carrying (guns)," she said, adding that their exposure to violence at home makes them believe that is the way to handle conflict.
Reinforced, of course, by a school district that appears to have little or no consistent discipline policies. The kids get the message from both home AND school that they can act with impunity.
And, in the You Should Quit While You're Ahead category:
Meanwhile, Regina Crenshaw, who was Mifflin's principal when the alleged assault took place, has appealed the board's decision to fire her. A hearing will be held May 13.
Where, if justice exists, she will be arrested for refusing to report a suspected sexual assault on one of her students.
I won't hold my breath based on what happened to her three assistants:
And three assistant principals, who had earlier received 10-day suspensions without pay for failing to report the assault, were to return to work on Wednesday, according to district spokeswoman Gayle Saunders.
Yeah, let's reward the folks who helped build the atmosphere at Mifflin that led to this assault by letting them keep their jobs. That sounds like it sends the right message to all the other school administrators in the Columbus