Open Letter to the Ketchikan School BoardBy John Harrington
March 13, 2019
Now it is time to shift attention back to the school district. When I first wrote a letter to Sitnews, I was hoping others would write and continue the public discussion. Thankfully, Gigi wrote a letter; she was a lot blunter than I was.
When I wrote my letter to Sitnews, I did so with the assumption that there was no notification to authorities on any of the situations you had investigated. If I am wrong, please correct me.The regulations were and are clear about notification. Notification to legal authorities was deemed unneeded. Back to the letter.
First a caveat: the misdeeds I will discuss all occurred several years ago. Also, they are all hearsay. However, every one of the sources is reputable, and I believed them.
First category of misdeeds: Sexual misconduct.
Second category: Child Abuse noted by a teacher.
The reason that I bring these incidents up is to point out that there is a history of ‘a code of silence’ in this district. These incidents are all old news. Nothing can be done about them, BUT TO LEARN.
You have many responsibilities. You are charged with overseeing the entire district. You are the community’s representatives. You must protect the district and the students.
As you move forward with your regulations, know that they were already adequate. What you need to do is to absolutely destroy the Code of Silence in this District. To do so, I have recommendations for you.
First: Immediately, direct your attorney to meet with the local prosecutor and share your report. And then assist the prosecutor in any way you can in the possible criminal prosecution of district employees who failed to report to the authorities as required by law and your regulations. To stay silent to abuse is to facilitate, encourage, and condone the acts. It makes the silent ones in part responsible for later abuses.
Second: Build into your regulations, specific rules with teeth. Make it a firing offense to fail to report abuse. If a teacher is in a real quandary. Build in a process with your administrative team (but require notification to more than one person) to assist.
Finally, make it clear in contract language, if ever again the Board gets caught unaware of ongoing incidents of abuse or misconduct, you will fire all involved.
Some of us are waiting to see what happens. The next step is yours. Make it a good one.
I had a friend read what I wrote. She asked me “Is this as strong as you want it to be? I replied ‘no.’ So she asked, “What did you leave out?” I responded:
“You the School Board had an opportunity to speak for the community, and our children. You failed. If an administrator had enough knowledge to ‘not sign a teacher’s contract, for cause,’ he had enough knowledge to report to Child Protective Services, failing that he should be indicted. Failing to act makes him an accessory to the predator. And you allowed him to resign. I guess so he can go and do the same in another district! You wouldn’t even give that information to the State agency evaluating whether people should keep their licenses to teach and administer in our schools.
One of you even wanted to have him stay. And now you want to give him $53,000. I find your conduct quite offensive. I hope to God you do something to redeem yourselves as you move forward.
Received March 13, 2019 - Published March 13, 2019
Viewpoints - Opinion Letters:
E-mail your letters
& opinions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Published letters become the property of SitNews.