Systemic betrayal of public trustBy Mark O’Brien
January 11, 2019
Concerning the Edwards abuse case, there appears to have been a systemic betrayal of public trust within the Ketchikan Gateway School District. During this past Wednesday’s meeting School Board member Diane Gubatayao was the only board member to step up and vote to not accept Robert Boyle’s letter of resignation. His resignation letter should have been rejected and the school board should have fired him instead. That collective vote would have been the first step in restoring faith in this body’s decisions regarding student safety and public trust.
There will be passionate arguments supporting the decision to accept the resignation from our recent superintendent. These arguments will undoubtably contain assurances concerning what is best for moving forward, protect the children, possible litigations, and financial costs to the district. The implication is that we should all trust that a collective few know what is best for all involved.
But that mindset is what got the KGBSD in this mess in the first place. A few KGBSD administrators used the same justifications to protect someone that they preferred to remember as “a good man.” Guidelines for Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect in Alaska (http://dhss.alaska.gov/ocs/Pages/publications/reportingchildabuse.aspx) were ignored. The private process used by the building administrators and superintendent seemed to protect and cover-up.
A public official or employee may forfeit retirement benefits if found to have violated state ethics and public corruption laws. Following many allegations regarding abuse, Edwards’ certification and pension were still safe. This may not have been the case if timely reporting procedures were followed. When reviewing the timeline of allegations, retirement, and arrest; does anyone really wonder how the public trust was betrayed? Does anyone wonder why the Superintendent’s letter of resignation was tendered before the investigation was made public (partially)? Many have lost their certification for far less.
Please finish this investigation with a public process, while protecting the abused and not the perpetrators. More must be done to restore public faith. Lance the boil of this ugly infection that seems to have been treated with a bandaid…under the guise of “what is best” for our schools. Ketchikan students, parents, and community deserve better.
Received January 10, 2019 - Published January 11, 2019
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