Monday, April 07, 2008

Very Sad (Updated)

This article appeared in today's Times about what the district has to pay to victims who were molested by a teacher. You'd have to believe that if this guy was in the district for 30 years, he didn't just suddenly take this up as a hobby. Meaning, there were probably many more victims. That is painful and sad to think about as a parent.

I have no idea what the procedure is when a principal or administrator suspects something of this sort - do they report this kind of activity further up the line? But 3 administrators warned him about his activity; was there no other action they or the district could take?

Very, very sad.

Update: the PI had an editorial about this issue on Wednesday. They had one suggestion:

"With the case over, we'd also like to hear the School Board and the superintendent personally express regrets to the more than a half-dozen victims for something that happened under others' watch. That would send a real message about the resolve of today's leaders to ensure lasting improvements. As a parent suggested two years ago, an apology also should go to all the students, including the boys, who had to experience such poor role modeling."

Maybe the Super and the Board will say something at tonight's Board meeting. Do you think that is what should happen? Maybe a public acknowledgment, from the top leadership, is important for everyone to hear, out loud and in public. Maybe it will just sound pro forma and insincere. (Although, I know what the people on the Board sound like when they talk; there's not an insincere one in the bunch.) I'm not sure what "personally express regrets" means - go directly to those students and their families?


Jet City mom said...

The teacher, Laurence "Shayne" Hill, pleaded guilty in late 2005 to child molestation and other sex crimes against students, including the two girls in the current settlement. He is serving a sentence of five years to life in prison.

Hill's misconduct spanned nearly 20 years, with at least 15 teachers and staff reporting his inappropriate behavior to successive school administrators, according to court documents.

Too bad that these mandated reporters- didn't think to report these crimes to the police- instead of an administrator that would pass the buck & these are the people whose salaries we pay.

Incidentally- there is someone on this blog who posts regularly who I have heard about from several staff and parents- of a former school- but not witnessed myself, very troubling behavior- ( not abusive but very inappropriate- I assume you know who you are)
I hope you are getting some help.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Class of '75, where did you get these quotes? That is not text from the story I linked to so it would be a good idea to say where it came from. He wasn't sentenced 5 years to life; he was sentenced to 5 years. The article states 3 administrators reported him, not 15 teachers and staff (although I have to believe other people noted his behavior over 30 years).

You must reference what you quote.

Ananda said...
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Jet City mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jet City mom said...


Komo tv news

Charlie Mas said...

So here are some lingering questions:

1. Did the District's settlement get the case against the two administrators dropped as well, or is only the District off the list of defendents? Will the suit against the administrators go forward?

2. What, if any, criminal charges do the two administrators face? Aren't they guilty of failure to file a mandatory report? Didn't they break the law? What does the King County Prosecuters office say?

3. The two administrators who were named as defendents are now working as principals at Seattle Public Schools. Will they continue in those roles? John Marshall's principal was removed without much process. How much process would it take to remove these principals? Should they be removed?

4. Do the two principals have the support of their current school communities? What, if anything, have they told the families at their schools about their action and inaction in this situation?

5. What do the readers of this blog think should be done about the two administrators - if anything? Would you presume that they are now the two we can expect to be the most scrupulous reporters in the future - or will the same influences apply next time this happens so they will perform as they did before?

anonymous said...

What did the administrators know??? What did they report to supervisors?? Did they report the incidents immediately?? Where did the ball get dropped??

reader said...

What principals do something??? Do principals EVER do anything about inappropriate or low performing staff members, teachers in particular? Unfortunately, this article shows that even when staff performance includes henious crimes, principals do absolutely nothing. What would it take to motivate a principal? Murder maybe? Think of the number of really low performing teachers, and some that are definitely even abusive though not sexually abusive. (not many poor performers, but definitely some). Absolutely nothing ever happens.

Charlie Mas said...

I haven't read any specifics, but it is universally agreed that the ball was dropped by the principals at the school. They received reports of inappropriate touching - among other things - and did not follow the correct procedure of reporting to the authorities. They did not report to law enforcement nor did they report to authorities within the District.

What did they know? They knew enough to require them to report. The District freely acknowledges that - although I can't say if the principals do.

The District procedure is for the teachers and others at the school to report to the school administration. It is then the responsibility of the school administration to report out of the school.

I cannot accept the idea of principals as an entire class of do-nothings. I have seen effective principals, so the idea that none of them act as managers or instructional leaders simply isn't credible.

Melissa Westbrook said...

What I thought I understood is that Jean Smart (the current B-T principal) came in at the very end of this situation as a new principal, came up to speed as to what was happening and either went along with the teacher's removal or started the process. I can see how someone coming in might be cautious about a situation like this.

Charlie, you ask difficult questions. I'm not on a jury and I don't have all the facts. It does seem clear that at least two principals had reports and did nothing. So, personally, I would not feel good about that person being principal at my child's school. It's a reflection of judgment. Not just poor judgment but bad judgment.

The district's spokesperson said "they learned a lot". I'm not sure they needed to learn a lot. They needed to do what they are legally obligated to do. If they suspect child abuse, they have to report it to the authorities. That more than one principal chose not to says something. The district spokesperson was also quoted as saying it could never happen again. Dumb. Whatever forces made these administrators to make these calls haven't just disappeared.

It's a terrible charge to level against a person. I read in the comments section at the end of the PI story a post from a person who knew this teacher and could hardly believe it. Maybe that was the problem.

I just find it hard to believe that no teacher, in all these years, didn't just go around the chain of command and go to the police. Maybe they feared for their jobs.

I'm also puzzled; no parent in all those years suspected a thing?

Jet City mom said...

I would like to see district procedure changed, when criminal activity is suspected.
As in this case, as in the case of the sexual assault at Rainier Beach, as in the murder of a Roosevelt student, I have not seen that the district is prepared to do it's own investigation of criminal behavior.

That is for the police to decide- what is worth investigating and what isn't .
Evidentally, the district is not up to the task of investigating staff or students.

As mandated reporters, staff needs to report to the police- to stop the behavior.

They need to change their policy of keeping everything in house & under the rug.

Jet City mom said...

This is California state law.

Your responsibilities
If you know or suspect a child is being abused or criminally neglected, you must call your local child protection agency as soon as possible. A school district police or security department is not considered a “child protection agency.” You must report abuse directly to a police or sheriff's department, a county probation department or a county welfare department. If you do not report a case of known or even suspected child abuse, you can be found guilty of a misdemeanor and be punished by six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. Remember, it is your duty to report the abuse, not to investigate it.

The Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (Penal Code, §11166 et. seq.) requires certain professionals and lay persons who have a special working relationship or regular contact with children to report known or suspected child abuse to the proper authorities.

The following is an excerpt from the law:

(a) ...a mandated reporter shall make a report to [the police or sheriff's department, the county probation department (if designated by the county to receive such reports), or the county welfare department] whenever the mandated reporter, in his or her professional capacity or within the scope of his or her employment , has knowledge of or observes a child whom the mandated reporter knows or reasonably suspects has been the victim of child abuse or neglect. The mandated reporter shall make a report to the agency immediately or as soon as is practicably possible by telephone, and the mandated reporter shall prepare and send a written report thereof within 36 hours of receiving the information concerning the incident. The mandated reporter may include with the report any nonprivileged documentary evidence the mandated reporter possesses relating to the incident.

(1) For the purposes of this article, “reasonable suspicion” means that it is objectively reasonable for a person to entertain a suspicion , based upon facts that could cause a reasonable person in a like position, drawing, when appropriate, on his or her training and experience, to suspect child abuse or neglect... (Pen. Code, §11166.)

Who must report?
California 's Child Abuse Reporting Law mandates that all classified employees must report known or suspected child abuse. Many schools have developed their own procedures for reporting child abuse. Again, regardless of such procedures, you must report it to a police, sheriff, probation or welfare department.

Teachermom said...

Does anyone know who the two principals are and where they are?

Charlie Mas said...

Yes. The names of the principals and their current work locations are known.

They were named in the article in the Seattle P-I but not in the Times article. The P-I did not name a third administrator, no longer working for the District, who was also accused of failing to act on warnings and reports about Mr. Hill's inappropriate conduct.

There appears to be some difference of opinion regarding what actions the current Broadview-Thomson principal took upon learning about Mr. Hill's activity. Some say she did nothing, some say she began the process to dismess him. What is clear, however, is that she did not take the correct action.

dan dempsey said...

We are watching what happens in a district when the operating procedure is often one of intimidation and reprisals. People tend not to act because of fear. Don't buck the chain of command.

The Superintendent is the big communication link for information traveling up to the School Board. The super also communicates the Board's policies and judgments to the Senior Staff and the principals.

We have had a school board that does not get adequate information because of Superintendent uplink failure in many cases.

I would make a major wager based on information (from someone at B-T at the time) that John Sanford had some information about this and then he died.

School Systems hire people to spin the stuff, that appears easier than improving academic results. The enforced chain of command manages to keep dissent and information well hidden.

Heard any peeps of dissatisfaction from West Seattle High teachers on the 6-period day mandate? of course not.

An environment of secrecy and blind allegiance to authority is not a great place for individuals to express themselves openly. If it is going to get said it will get said by someone further up the chain of command, or in the case of child abuse sometimes not at all.