The 9-Cover Up Practices of Schools that Normalized Abuse

Schools cover up practices resulting in depression, trauma, suicide, and ‘normalized’ child abuse!

NOTE: When students report incidents of wrongdoing, they are asking for help and guidance to stop the misconduct. Despite clear written guidelines, policies, and  state and federal laws, school administrators opt to employ their own unlawful, discretionary “hush” tactics to protect the offender.  This marks the beginning of agonizing encounters where the school administrations do everything in their authority to silence the victims and fend off respective parents. Their motivation is to shield school’s reputation, influx of donations, and legal liability.

Nationwide Cases

Larry Nassar – Michigan State / USA Gymnastics

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/01/24/sports/larry-nassar-victims.html

Jerry Sandusky  – Penn State University

https://www.cnn.com/2013/10/28/us/penn-state-scandal-fast-facts/index.html

Mr. Fenner – Kent Boarding School   

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/17/nyregion/suit-alleges-past-sexual-abuse-at-connecticut-boarding-school.html

Mark Wright – Horace Mann High School   

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/10/confronting-teacher-horace-mann-abuse.html

Fredrick Lyman – Choate Rosemary Hall

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/23/nyregion/ousted-over-sexual-misconduct-claims-and-on-to-the-next-teaching-job.html

2-Texas Principals Arrested Failing to Report Sexual Assault    
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/02/08/2-texas-principals-arrested-for-failing-to-report-sexual-abuse-allegations.html

Dominic Caserta’s Sexual Harassment 

https://www.sanjoseinside.com/2018/05/18/santa-clara-unified-breaks-silence-on-dominic-casertas-sexual-harassment-scandal/

Palo Alto High School District Sexual Assault and More

https://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/2017/08/25/office-for-civil-rights-to-investigate-paly-sex-assault-cases

https://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/2018/03/14/title-ix-coordinator-requests-support-for-investigations-compliance?utm_campaign=magnet&utm_source=article_page&utm_medium=related_articles

Bullying Ignored Results in Tragic Suicide

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-44552864?SThisFB

Silencing The Victim And Protecting Offenders 

http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/8396987-181/petaluma-high-school-valedictorian-appalledVictim in New Hampshire Prep School ‘Senior Salute’ Case Speaks Out

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/31/us/chessy-prout-sexual-assault-victim-of-owen-labrie-at-new-hampshire-school-speaks-out.html

 Principal Failure Led to protect Bullying Led to a Suicide

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/27/nyregion/at-school-where-student-died-bullying-led-to-a-suicide-attempt.html

 

San Diego County Cases

Raymond Firth at Pacific Rim Elementary School, Carlsbad

https://www.voiceofsandiego.org/topics/education/dont-wait-for-the-district-to-do-the-right-thing/

Martin Teachworth at La Jolla High School 

https://www.voiceofsandiego.org/topics/education/2013-emails-reveal-complaints-la-jolla-high-teacher/

Donn Boyd at San Dieguito High Academy*

https://www.voiceofsandiego.org/topics/education/teacher-accused-touching-students-allowed-back-class-another-student-complained/

46-Year-Old Music Teacher. 17-Years-Old Student. La Costa Canyon*

https://www.voiceofsandiego.org/topics/education/she-was-17-he-was-her-46-year-old-teacher-despite-warning-signs-he-stayed-in-the-classroom-for-years/

Special Education Teacher Sexual Harassment La Mesa Spring Valley School

https://www.voiceofsandiego.org/topics/education/sexual-misconduct-records-reveal-investigations-reprimands-occasional-resignations-local-schools/

Special Education Students Sexual Assault. Lincoln High School

https://www.voiceofsandiego.org/topics/education/tormented-students-sexual-assault-teacher-falls/

There are hundreds of thousands of incidents that can fill millions of pages with cases of sexual misconduct and harassment. Furthermore, they clearly display the ‘cover up’ that school personnel and administrators enact.  There are many more that are not reported due to fear of retaliation and retribution.

Category

  • Student Well Being
  • High School
  • Parenting
  • Education
  • Leadership
  • Title IX
  • Title V
  • Title I

Background

Schools exploit the vulnerability and ignorance of the victims to cover up sexual assault scandals with deceptive and unlawful tactics.

On November 2011, as I watched the trial of Jerry Sandusky in disbelief, I was outraged. Physical and sexual abuse against vulnerable boys had occurred and school officials and coaches had deliberately covered it up.  On January 2016, my own daughter reported a sexual harassment incident that occurred at an elite private school in San Diego. Again I was appalled…school officials used bullying tactics to silence the girls who had already been victimized.  On December 2017, I followed the Larry Nassar trial intensely, where for over twenty years school officials failed to protect the young gymnasts and covered up the repeated sexual abuse. I was shocked, revolted, and determined to do something about it. I could not be a bystander any longer, I decided to devote time to understand how the entire system fails to protect our most vulnerable of our nation. Although, I had some understanding, I was curious to know more about how the public-school education system truly works.  I began attending district board meetings where I met a group of community members who shared my passion to protect students from sexual assault and abuse of power.

Together, we joined forces, and researched sexual assault cases that occurred locally and nationally. We’ve discovered that there are many laws protecting children and students from sexual assault, but schools use perverted and deceptive practices to cover up these incidents, which is reminiscent of priest scandals in the Catholic Church.

“The failure of U.S. schools to protect students from sexual abuse by school personnel is a story of school administrators and district cover-ups, lack of training, incomplete teacher background checks and little guidance from the U.S. Department of Education.”5

https://www.gao.gov/assets/670/660375.pdf

9-Cover Up Practices of School Officials and Administrators 

Practice 1: FROM CONFIDENTIAL TO EXPOSED

School administrators may intentionally expose the name of the student and family that filed the complaint to the perpetrator, even though the victims file the complaint in confidence.

This immediately enables school officials and perpetrators to gain leverage. Parents will be very hesitant to insist on justice due to fear from retaliation since their child’s safety is compromised.

Worse yet, when school officials expose the name of the victim to the offender, often, if the offender is a classmate, then the victim may be ganged up against. Harassment and bullying the victim will continue.

If the offender is one of the school personnel, then, the student is dealing with manipulative adults, placing them in a very dangerous situation.

If the offender is a minor, the victims are at the mercy and discretion of the school officials.

 

Practice 2: DELAY OF REPORTING TO THE PARENTS  

Administrators often delay informing parents of the incident. Parents are usually the last ones to be notified of the incident.

School officials first and foremost take steps to evaluate the severity of the incident and potential legal exposure. With that in mind they:

  1. Call upon the offender/violator to conduct an internal investigation to verify the facts
  2. Consult with an attorney to understand the severity and legal exposure
  3. Devise an internal strategy depending on whether the offender is a minor or a school personnel.

*If the offender is a minor, then the parents are informed and consulted by the school.

  1. Expose the victim’s name to the offender
  2. Inform the victim’s parents

Practice 3: INTERROGATING VICTIMS WITHOUT PERMISSION

Victims and minor offenders are permitted to be interrogated without the presence or permission of their parents. This should be forbidden. Parents of minors should be notified immediately. These actions demonstrate that school officials act in bad faith: they intentionally instill fear and anxiety in the victims to prevent them from speaking up. The Miranda rights law should be read and integrated in the investigation process. There are a few suicide cases where kids were interrogated without the parents’ knowledge.

Practice 4: VAGUE AND MINIMAL WRITTEN COMMUNICATIONS

School administrators refrain from providing details of the incident reported. Furthermore, when you ask them for details of their investigation in written form [email], they remain vague and invite you to a face-to-face meeting or phone call conversation.

In a meeting, when parents ask questions that may potentially incriminate the school, administrators claim that they cannot provide you any information due to protecting the offender’s privacy rights. That is purely a lie. By law under Title IX, school officials must investigate and inform the parents of the outcome.

Therefore, school officials leverage parent’s ignorance of Title IX rights and intentionally keep communications vague and superficial. This is to prevent any record or traces of evidence that may lead to incriminating information.

Practice 5: TRIVIALIZE TO CAST DOUBT

Administrators may proceed to trivialize, dismiss, and/or even deny the incident that occurred.  They begin to cast doubt on the victims’ testimony. They claim that the child may be:

  1. Looking for attention
  2. Recounting the events inaccurately
  3. Confusing or misinterpreting the gestures
  4. Exaggerating and/or lying

Let me assure you that in most cases no victim wants this kind of attention on them. In most cases, when children are violated, they know right from wrong. Victims interpret  gestures and wrongdoings accurately in efforts to protect themselves and other potential victims.

Practice 6: ‘WAR OF ATTRITION’ BY DEFLECT, DENY, AND DELAY RESPONSE 

School administrators and officials intentionally stall resolving the issue rapidly. As longer the issue is dragged, the victim’s anxiety deepens, and the more likely parents are to drop the case.  Many parents do not have the resources and/or energy to “fight” the schools. They also become very distraught when their child’s well-being is deteriorating as the issue is prolonged. Therefore, many parents eventually give up and let the issue go.

Tactics that involve stalling and ignoring are like engaging in a “war of attrition.” Administrators know that prolonging the resolution harms the child, resulting in the parents dropping the complaint.

Practice 7: ATTACK, ISOLATE, AND BAN PARENTS FROM SCHOOL CAMPUS

When parents keep insisting that the school takes action and remedies the situation immediately, administrators and school personnel often respond boldly and arrogantly. They use a two prong attack on the parents and the child. Here are some of their responses:

  1. State: ‘our school is not a zero-tolerance school, we have a restorative style.’
  2. Say: ‘if you do not like this school, it may not be the one for your child.’
  3. Have a covert meeting with their staff to shun parents
  4. Issue a letter to the parents banning them from the premises

Practice 8: ATTACK MODE ON VICTIMS

When parents keep insisting that the school take action immediately, school administrators and personnel infuse fear to intimidate and silence the victim.

School officials call the victim to a meeting alone with school officials or an ‘independent investigator’ who is ‘supposedly’ there to help investigate the issue. In reality, they use tactics to threaten the victim by inducing fear, shame, and embarrassment if the issue goes public.  They do everything to in other words, tell the victim to keep it quiet.

Practice 9: ‘SANITIZE’ RECORDS AND PASSING THE TRASH

School administrators and districts found a way to pretend they are doing the right thing by “sanitizing the records” and “passing the trash.”  This means that in highly publicized and exposed incidents where the teachers or school personnel are the offenders, school administrators and the district use their power, legal teams, and authority to cover-up offender’s wrong doings. They:

  1. Engage an attorney
  2. Negotiate a severance package with the offender with paid leave of absence
  3. Relocate the offender within one of the district’s schools or another district
  4. Avoid reporting the incident to authorities or any agencies (even though this is mandated by law)
  5. Avoid reporting the incident/violation when another school calls for references

Consequently, the offender gets a “fresh start” to perpetuate assault against vulnerable children since their histories are unknown and records remain nonexistent.

This process is known as a way to ‘sanitize the records’ and ‘pass the trash.’

School officials clearly violate state and federal laws and well aware that they have minimal consequences.

Stop Proposed Title IX! Here is why…

These perverted tactics has one main goal to drain the resources and energy of the victims and their families, so they drop the case. 

It’s atrocious that these people that are allowing this to happen have no consequences,”   Heiskala said, referring to school administrators. Her eight years old daughter was molested by her third-grade teacher, Mr. Reymond Firth.

Often it is not the incident that traumatizes our children, youth, and young adults. It is rather the cover up practices employed by school administrators results in deterioration in an emotional well-being of our children due to their perverted tactics and morals.

On November 16th, 2018 the Department of Education issued a press release that the proposed Title IX rule “provides clarity for schools, support for survivors, and due process rights to all.”  That is a distortion of the truth! This newly proposed regulation is written by school officials lobbyist group. 

The proposed “regulation leaves flexibility for a school to pursue informal resolution to be investigated through the school own employee.

1.  How can a “designated school employee” be an “objective,” “fair,” and “unbiased investigator?” 

Clearly, this language grants schools a discretionary and discriminatory “grievance process” with an obvious conflict of interest.  They act as a judge, jury, and the executioner.

School officials’ highest priority is to protect their reputation, ensure an influx of donations, and shield themselves from financial liability.

2. Schools granted to designate their “own reasonable timeframe.” 

 Clearly granting schools “flexibility” to designate their “own reasonable timeframe” harms students and their families.   School officials are well-aware if they prolong the resolution of the incident, the case might be dropped eventually. We call it a “war of attrition.”  As the issue lingers, it induces uncertainty and anxiety, which morphs into depression and isolation.  Parents observe their child’s pain and agony and often believe if they drop the case, it will end their suffering, often that is more a perception than the reality. Therefore, granting schools their “own reasonable timeframe,” helps them drain and further traumatize the victims and their families. Resolution needs to be quick and just for victims to restore trust and confidence in the institution.

3. “No damages will be assessed against a school.” So how will school be deterred to stop cover up practices?

The proposed regulation states that the Department of Education “will not assess damages against a school as a remedy for a violation of these regulations, they will focus on enforcement efforts to bring schools into compliance of Title IX.”

“Leaving flexibility” and “not assessing any damages” is a detrimental outcome for our students, which totally at the mercy of schools who have no serious or substantial consequences. 

Note that some solutions need to be segmented between K-12 and for higher education due to differences in age, legality of guardians, and severity of incidents. The proposed Title IX has minimal inferences to the differences between K-12 to higher education. 

Those who are “Deliberately Indifferent” Must Held Personally Liable   

School officials and personnel who “deliberately indifferent” and use cover up tactics must be held personally liable.  Professionally, their license to practice in any institution should be revoked, nullifying confidential agreements.  Financially, they should pay for their own legal representation, withdrawing severance packages, pension plans and/or bonuses.

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