Skip to comments.Teacher sex cases problem in state (Kentucky - almost 100 instances in five years)
Posted on 10/27/2007 8:35:40 PM PDT by Libloather
Teacher sex cases problem in state
By Dylan T. Lovan
LOUISVILLE - In elementary and secondary classrooms across Kentucky, teachers have harassed, molested - and in the worst cases - sexually assaulted the students they were entrusted to nurture and protect.
State officials handled nearly 100 instances of teacher sexual misconduct over a recent five-year period, ranging from minor violations like using sexual language to more serious, criminal acts like inappropriate touching and even sodomy and rape. That's about two violations for each month on the school calendar.
In a sample of teacher disciplinary actions from 2001 to 2005 by the state agency that tracks violations, 95 teachers had their license suspended or revoked, or they surrendered it for wrongdoing related to sexual misconduct. That's 42 percent of the 227 teachers who faced punishment during that time frame for all misconduct.
Some crimes were so egregious, the teachers ended up in prison or on the state registry of sex offenders.
Others committed minor violations - like browsing for Internet porn on school grounds - and were given a short suspension and allowed to continue their careers.
Kentucky's figures were gathered as part of a seven-month investigation in which AP reporters sought records on teacher discipline in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Across the country, sexual misconduct allegations led states to take action against the licenses of 2,570 educators from 2001 through 2005. That figure includes licenses that were revoked, denied and surrendered.
Young people were victims in at least 69 percent of the cases, and the large majority of those were students.
Nine out of 10 of the abusive educators were male. And at least 446 of the cases the AP found involved educators who had multiple victims.
There are about 3 million public school teachers in the United States, and more than 42,600 in Kentucky.
Kentucky requires school superintendents to report allegations of sexual misconduct by teachers and substitutes. The allegations are reviewed by the state's Education Professional Standards Board, which maintains records on teaching certificates and rules on suspensions and revocations.
Though nearly 100 educators were punished for sexual misdeeds in the sample, officials said the actual number of cases could be higher. Some districts have only recently begun reporting smaller violations.
Officials with the standards board began stepping up efforts in 2004 to encourage superintendents to report alleged abuses, said Alicia Sneed, the board's director of legal services.
Sneed said some superintendents had believed that they needed only to report alleged abuses if a teacher had been fired.
"So we weren't getting the things where people were just suspended for two days," Sneed said. "I don't think anybody realized how many cases were out there, and there's probably still more out there that need to be reported to us."
When incidents aren't heard by the board, it makes it impossible for other districts, and other states, to know a teacher's background when they leave a previous job under a cloud.
"You've kind of seen that stuff could get swept under the rug in other districts," Sneed said. "And for whatever reason, a district might decide that it is in their best interest just to accept a resignation from someone and never ever speak of them again."
In one case in Louisville, an investigation by the standards board turned up a previous violation, prompting the teacher to resign. John E. Buckley was suspended for five days in May 2002 by Jefferson County's school district for allegations that he inappropriately touched female students at Thomas Jefferson Middle School.
After receiving the complaint, the state standards board found that Buckley had been accused of similar touching allegations during the previous school year at Shawnee High School, in the same district. Buckley resigned later that year.
His certificate was suspended by the standards board for eight years. A phone number for Buckley could not be located.
In the most serious cases, teachers had their certificates suspended for 20 years or more, effectively ending their careers.
Over the five-year period reviewed, 26 Kentucky teachers had their certificates revoked for 20 years or more, or permanently, for sexual misconduct. Another 10 had their certificates taken away for 20 years or longer for non-sexual offenses.
At least 14 teachers were convicted of sex felonies, such as rape, sodomy and producing child pornography. At least three are serving time in federal prisons.
Mark Starr, a former teacher at Boyle County Middle School in Danville, surrendered his license after pleading guilty in 2004 to using a minor in a sexual performance and distributing child porn. Starr was charged with filming young girls - one of them was his student - in sexual performances. Some of the videos were made at the school. He was sentenced to 30 years in a federal prison as part of a plea deal. Richard Melville, Starr's former attorney, said the evidence against Starr was "sufficient" for a plea deal. He said Starr is working on his own from prison to get his sentenced reduced.
Other violators were higher up in the school's administration.
Gary Wright had been principal at Ben Johnson Elementary School in Breckinridge County for 11 years when he was indicted in 2002 on sexual abuse charges, including rape. Wright had married a former student at the school in the early 1990s, but it ended in divorce and the woman asked prosecutors to press charges, saying Wright had a sexual relationship with her beginning when she was 12.
Kenton Smith, the commonwealth attorney in Breckinridge County, said Wright's case was "difficult" and ended with a plea deal that handed Wright a conviction for first-degree sexual abuse. Wright also agreed to surrender his teaching license. A phone message left at Wright's home was not returned. Wright's attorney in the case, Barry Birdwhistell of Elizabethtown, declined to comment on the plea agreement.
Wright is one of at least five teachers from the five-year sample who landed on the state's registry of sex offenders.
At least 13 teachers punished for sexual misconduct are listed as active teachers by the standards board. Most committed minor offenses, were suspended for a month or two and were allowed to return to the classroom.
In order to better track teachers who have been punished and moved on to another district or state, the state school board in 2004 voted to print suspension and revocation information on the face of Kentucky teacher's certificates so when teachers moved to a new district or state, the offenses came with them, said Brenda Dinkins Allen, a former attorney with the standards board.
"It made it clear to the teacher that this could affect the rest of their working lives," said Allen, now general counsel for Fayette County's school board. "They have to take that from district to district."
And the problem is?
(Ducks and runs...)
“Kentucky requires school superintendents to report allegations of sexual misconduct by teachers and substitutes. The allegations are reviewed by the state’s Education Professional Standards Board, which maintains records on teaching certificates and rules on suspensions and revocations. “
Good, and yet in most states, the teachers union has fought this very thing. They have made it almost impossible to get rid of teachers, for any reason.In a lot of states, it is swept under the rug completely or kept quiet and the teacher moved to another school. I’m glad to see KY takes it more seriously!
Google “teacher” and “sex” (do it under the News tab, of course). You’ll get a ridiculous number of stories. Mary Kay La-whatever and the hot Florida teacher-chick are the most well known, but there are A LOT of cases nationwide. It’s an everyday thing, literally.
But you’re awful if you bring up the notion of home-schooling!
I wonder what percentage of the accusations are false.
I agree with you.
"State officials handled nearly 100 instances of teacher sexual misconduct over a recent five-year period,"
These are not allegations or accusations.
Every once in awhile, I search for 'teacher assault' on Yahoo news. There is never a shortage of stories.
They seem to be allegations that have passed muster with a the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board. That is not a court of law, though some of these cases were apparently tried in courts of law.
Professional boards are often more concerned with avoiding potential lawsuits than with justice. I'm still skeptical.
2 words....Home School. My daughter is no longer in public school. The liberals were left in charge of education and all one gets is indoctrination and child abuse.
Actually, I wonder what percentage of the accused teachers are hot.
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