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Tuesday, June 01, 2010

A Rape at Roosevelt

Sad news. An 18-year old Roosevelt student has been charged with raping a developmentally disabled girl. They had been dating for several weeks but he got her to skip class and go into a girl's bathroom where he touched her inappropriately and only stopped when another student came in. The girl reported it to a counselor. The attack happened on May 20th and the offender was arrested. He was charged May 25th.

What makes this particularly difficult is that the male student is a Level II sex offender. Only certain staff at Roosevelt knew this and certainly no students or parents. State law does not require this information to be given out to a school community. He could go to prison for up to 14 months if convicted of this second crime.

It's a pretty delicate thing to provide for the safety of students and yet allow this student to continue his education. I'm not sure I understand the choice of a regular high school versus a small re-entry where he could be better monitored.

UPDATE: Well, this is very troubling. From KOMO TV news:

Patti Spencer, a spokesperson for Seattle Public Schools, said the King County Sheriff's Office alerted the school about Reyes' sex offender status. However, Spencer claims appropriate measures were not taken because the sheriff's office did not alert the district as well.

"Yes, the school was notified; the district was not," she said. "We did not receive that information at central office. What happens when we receive that information at central office (is) there's a detailed assessment done, agreement about an appropriate placement of the student, and safety and behavior plans."

When asked why school officials didn't alert the district, Spencer said, "It's very clear that we will need to have a conversation with the other agencies involved to ensure there's absolute clarity about the flow of information."

18 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

Here is a story on this topic from the Seattle Times.

Josh Hayes said...

Oh, man, this is one ugly story. Not what SPS needs in the way of publicity right now.

ARB said...

How is it that this person was able to spend time with a vulnerable student w/o anyone taking notice?

seattle said...

An 18 year old junior?

I don't think allowing a sex offender into the school, or not supervising him as a sex offender is SPS's fault. The courts determine if a student can attend school. Once that is determined the schools have a legal obligation to serve that student.

I wish the court would have only allowed this student to be enrolled in a re-entry school, where supervision is much much closer. Or maybe at they could have placed him in an institutional facility like Ryther (that has a strong juvenile sex offender program), and a school program.

Unknown said...

From the King County website:

"Level 2 offenders have a moderate risk of re-offending. They generally have more than one victim and the abuse may be long term. These offenders usually groom their victims and may use threats to commit their crimes. These crimes may be predatory with the offender using a position of trust to commit their crimes. Typically these individuals do not appreciate the damage they have done to their victims"

Does this really sound like someone who should have been allowed with the general student population? Couldn't this student have been sent to community college or distance learning for a GED instead?

ARB said...

my comment is directed not to whether the kid should have been in school at all, but how, when school staff knew of his classification, he was allowed to "date" a developmentally disabled child w/o intervention.

gavroche said...

More disturbing details here:

http://www.kirotv.com/news/23761147/detail.html

Police: Teen Sex Offender Raped Special Ed Student At School

Charlie Mas said...

ARB asks why this student was allowed to spend time with a particularly vulnerable student. That question presumes that Roosevelt staff had some duty to monitor the student's non-academic activities. But I wonder.

To what extent did the staff at Roosevelt have a responsibility to oversee this student's activities with regard to risk of recidivism?

To what extent is the staff at Roosevelt trained for that work?

To what extent would the staff at Roosevelt have authorization to intervene in this relationship between two students? Are all student couples subject to school staff approval?

What other authorities were following up with this student? Was the student outside of all Court authority?

zb said...

I see the school districts side in a lot of things, but not this one. I think the schools just haven't come up with a way of balancing the rights of the behavior of violent (and I'm broadening beyond sex offenders, those guilty of assault are also a concern) and the rights of the other students.

Students who are in the court system (or in the SpEd system) for behavioral problems, some of which include hurting their fellow students have legal rights. They should have legal rights. But, we need to have a more open discussion about how those rights can be protected within the context of protecting the other children.

I think in some cases, the school district is choosing the plan of keeping their fingers crossed and hoping that nothing bad happens. That might be a cheaper plan in the short run, but it's wrong. And, even just purely economically, I suspect it's not a cheaper plan in the long run.

Shannon said...

Awful awful situation and difficult issues. At a private school I was part of, we conducted background checks on parent volunteers. If a 'flag' was recorded we were able to refuse to allow the parent to volunteer but the policy was not to let everyone in the community know that this family has a sex offender / violent offender etc in it.

I don't know the legality of these decisions but just as you would like to know which child at school is a sex offender you would like to know if you are sending your kid for a sleepover at a sex offenders house.

What is the law on identifying these offenders - adult and minor? While public safety would seem to argue for their identification, what chance is there of juvenile sex offenders becoming anything other than outcast and (in my view) likely to re-offend, if they are publicly identified by this label through schooling?

I see that there is a rather grievous sounding sex offender at Eckstein. Are there policies in place to maintain the safety of that school community?

Michael said...

Notice that the District puts all the blame on "other agencies" instead of taking the Principal to task on something that should be very basic - notifying HQ.

seattle said...

Shannon - As far as sleepovers are concerned you can do a quick check of the parents yourself as long as you know their names and what block they live on. Sex offenders must register and they can be identified on the registered sex offender list here:

http://www.kingcounty.gov/safety/sheriff/SOSearch.aspx

While this is easy to do for a sleepover, it's impossible to do at a school like Roosevelt where families do not have access to a list of the names of all registered students.

Families have to rely on the school and our justice system to keep our kids safe and that is SCARY.

ARB said...

Charlie- this happened on school grounds during school hours. I don't know the victim's specific issues, but developmentally disabled children should be considered highly vulnerable to predatory conduct. It is estimated that disabled kids are 4 to 10 times more likely to be sexually abused than typical kids. The school had knowledge that the individual was a sexual predator and should have taken appropriate steps to prevent contact with disabled children wherever possible.

ARB said...

Zb- what is the point of analogizing a sex offender to a behaviorally disabled child?

hschinske said...

Doesn't Roosevelt have a student directory? Of course that wouldn't necessarily list all the students, but it would be a help as far as finding out that your children's friends and their parents *aren't* on the sex offender list.

Helen Schinske

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm going to write another thread on this issue because there are a number of things here that don't make sense. I will just say right now that I know Brian Vance, the principal at RHS, and he is a good principal who is detailed oriented. He would NOT have forgotten to let the district know this. (One thing we should all do is let our legislators know the law should read that BOTH the school and the district are notified, instead of just the school.)

ttln said...

We (teachers)are not allowed to know this type of confidential information about students. I have gone to the mat several times about how this policy/law is ridiculous and prevents us from keeping our students safe. As a mother of two daughters, this scares the bajesus out of me. As a teacher, it makes me angry to think that something could happen to a student that I could have prevented or to think that I might inadvertently set up a potential situation by trusting a kid when I shouldn't.

On the other hand, I can understand that teacher knowledge of information of this type might create a situation where the student is treated poorly by staff who will hold this information against the offender student. If they have served their time, they have the right to rejoin society. Yes, as adult sex offenders, they must register and their identity and previous criminal history is made public. However, the records of minors are kept confidential and knowledge of their offender "registration" status is limited.

It is a delicate balance between the rights of those on both sides of the issue

Unknown said...

Seems like online school is an excellent environment for children who pose safety risks.