Skip to comments.Teacher Claims He Was Fired For Reporting Suspicion Of Child Sexual Abuse
Posted on 02/12/2014 4:33:46 PM PST by FlJoePa
By Sarah Fruchtnicht, Wed, February 12, 2014
A Pennsylvania substitute teacher claims he was wrongfully terminated after he reported suspicion of child sexual abuse to police.
Meadville Area High School teacher Christopher Harmon insists he was threatened for reporting his suspicions to authorities, instead of the principal, and was fired the day after he made the report.
Harmon filed suit in federal court against the Crawford County School District, its Superintendent Charles Heller and MASH Principal John Higgins on Feb. 3.
The lawsuit states that Higgins "attempted to intimidate and dissuade Harmon from making any additional reports of suspected child abuse outside the 'chain of command.' In other words, Harmon was only supposed to report suspected child abuse to him and no one else. These intimidation attempts culminated in Principal Higgins threatening to blackmail Harmon and to take away his licensure as a substitute teacher.
Harmon says he overheard a student conversation in September in which a girl said her minor sister was engaging in sexual intercourse with her mother's paramour, who is believed to be in his 40s.
The student allegedly said the sexual relationship had been ongoing for the last two years.
"Harmon informed the student that he had overheard the conversation and was required by law to report it, as such a sexual relationship constitutes statutory rape, the complaint says. Instead of denying the incidents of statutory rape had occurred, the student pleaded with Harmon not to report it. This lack of denial only strengthened Harmon's suspicion of abuse."
The student also allegedly pleaded with Principal Higgins not to let Harmon report the incident.
Harmon reported the alleged abuse to the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare on Sept. 27.
The termination letter he received on Sept. 28 said it was "[d]ue to the reported behavior that [he] exhibited as a substitute teacher at [MASH] on September 26, 2013.
School district labor attorney Richard Perhacs says Harmon was removed for walking out amid a conversation with Higgins about the proper way to file the report.
Child protective services law is very clear, Perhacs told the Meadville Tribune. When an employee receives this information while at work, hes supposed to report it to his building supervisor. He went outside the chain of command, which is what this is all about.
Harmon believes he "was acting as a citizen and speaking upon matters of public concern when he reported suspected child abuse and Principal Higgins' attempt to suppress its reporting to Superintendent Heller and the authorities, including the Department of Welfare and the police, and thereafter his speech is protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution."
He is seeking reinstatement, lost wages, costs and damages for constitutional violations, retaliation, and Whistleblower Law violations.
> I guess you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
Pedophilia is being normalized before our very eyes. Not de jure, but de facto. De jure will follow later, like it did with the queers.
Pretty soon, protecting your children with a shotgun won’t be just a cute little metaphor anymore. But you’ll prolly go to prison for it.
There is a lot of irony in this story.
My wife was a school nurse and in two states was required to report suspected abuse directly to state authorities. Reporting to school authorities violates confidentiality and by law those same authorities would be required to report the abuse directly to state officials anyway. This is just school bureaucrats being idiots.
The name Sandusky pops into my crazy mind.
In Texas a teacher is required by law to report directly to authorities. Failing to do so is a misdemenor and opens one up to civil lawsuits.
The principal’s reaction should have been to scold the teacher for not following proper protocol and also praise him for acting quickly and decisively in the protection of the minor. For the teacher to be fired suggests some seriously skewed priorities at the school and perhaps throughout that district.
My wife and I both work with children and are mandatory reporters. We have both made this report in the past to the school and have been handed the forms that go directly to social services child protection to fill out. Our schools assist us in making this report. This situation is just crazy and stinks of someone trying to protect a child molester.
It may depend on the state but I thought all teacher were mandated reporters.
Hmmm. Based on the info given, one can’t help but wonder if Principal Higgins has something to hide here. Could he be the mystery “paramour”?
Some years back, my daughter was in fast-pitch softball and one of the other mothers was a teacher’s aide. She told me that she had been threatened with a lawsuit because she had told the school that a gay elementary teacher had been fondling the young boys in class, right in front of her. The teacher remained in the classroom; but, she was transferred to a very troubled school with a lot of violence.
“in two states was required to report suspected abuse directly to state authorities. Reporting to school authorities violates confidentiality and by law those same authorities would be required to report the abuse directly to state officials anyway. This is just school bureaucrats being idiots.”
Joe Paterno was fired when he reported the potential child molestation by Sandusky to his superiors but not the outside agencies. (In Pennsylvania)
In New York and Virginia you report to the Principal or ranking administrator and then either you or they call Social Services, right then and there. You tell the Administrator first because they know the questions SS will ask and generally will have access to student records that a teacher might not if it is not one of their students. I had to do this with one of my swimmers when I was coaching. I did not have access to address, phone # etc....