By Victor Skinner
NEW YORK – Former CNN anchor Campbell Brown has had enough, and she’s not alone.
Brown launched a statewide parents group in New York this week called the Parents Transparency Project, and it’s taking aim at one of the biggest problems in public education: educators who sexually abuse students, the New York Daily News reports.
The Parents Transparency Project hopes to help bring attention to the issue by pressuring union officials and city and state lawmakers to finally act against teachers who abuse kids yet remain employed in the New York City school system.
The Daily News reports dozens of accused sexual predators work in New York City schools because the current arbitration process often forces the city to keep them on the payroll. Arbitrators are jointly hired by the school district and the teachers union, and are notorious for giving the union a fair share of “victories” in arbitration cases, resulting in questionable teachers returning to work.
“Data obtained by Brown and the Daily News shows that out of 128 school staff members who’ve engaged in sexual misconduct or inappropriate relationships with students since 2007, just 33 were actually fired,” the Daily News reports.
“The details of these cases are hidden,” Brown told the Daily News. “Many parents have no idea whether one of these teachers has been entrusted with their children.”
The newspaper notes that former school librarian Christopher Asch was busted for inappropriately toughing a student in 2010 – and admitted during his arbitration hearing to attending meetings of the North American Man/Boy Love Association – yet received only a six month suspension. He was later arrested for plotting to kidnap, torture and rape women and children.
That case is one of many where sexually abusive teachers have been allowed to remain in the job in New York.
City education officials have repeatedly pressured state lawmakers to give them authority to terminate school workers for creepy behavior with students, but opposition by the teachers unions has kept that from happening.
City officials’ success rate with removing teachers accused of other bad behavior is equally unimpressive. In the 2011-12 school year, only 17 of 233 teachers charged with misconduct were actually terminated through the arbitration process, according to the News.
Outside of New York City, the problem with sexually abusive educators is not much better. Throughout the nation teachers accused of sexual misconduct frequently skirt the consequences by quietly leaving in exchange for letters of recommendation – and sometimes even a hefty settlement.
Those educators often repeat their heinous acts after securing employment in other schools.
EAGnews recently published a series in conjunction with TheBlaze.com on the growing problem of “sextracurricular activities” between teachers and students.
Brown’s group will help draw more attention to a truly disturbing issue that’s been largely unaddressed for far too long. That can only be a good thing.