Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Incompetent Administrators, Not Unions, Keep Molesters in the Classroom

“The standard here is low—reasonable suspicion. The obligation is mandatory reporting, not mandatory investigation on your own.”—Alison Filo, Deputy District Attorney in San Jose, California, quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Filo’s comments were in reference to the recent filing of charges against Lyn Vijayendran, principal of O.B. Whaley Elementary School in Santa Clara County, for failing to report allegations of sexual abuse by one of her teachers. If convicted, Vijayendran faces up to six months in jail.

The situation at Whaley is not unusual or unique. One of my first blog postings on Modern School, “Adults Behaving Badly,” recounted an experience I had during my first year of teaching. When I reported sexual harassment allegations two of my students had made against a colleague, my principal’s response was to ask what I had against this fellow teachers and what I thought he should do about it. In the end, the teacher continued to teach at this school and was ultimately promoted to dean.

Recently LAUSD was rocked by several molestation scandals. Superintendent Deasey’s response was to fire the entire staff at one of the schools, casting the impression that all the teachers were suspect. Meanwhile, pundits and politicians increased their vitriolic claims that teachers’ unions protected molesters and criminals. Indeed, a letter to the editor in today’s SF Chron repeated the absurd charges that the unions are more concerned with protecting perverts than children. Yet in many cases, including the recent ones in San Jose and Los Angeles, numerous allegations had been made against the accused teachers and then either ignored or downplayed by their administrators, allowing them to continue the abuse. It was the administrators, not the unions, who kept the accused teachers in the classrooms.

In May, parents of 20 students at Miramonte Elementary sued Los Angeles Unified School District, and several of its administrators, for failing to act on allegations of molestation and sexual abuse at that school. This week, according to the Los Angeles Times, several of the parents filed an additional suit, claiming they have suffered emotional distress from the abuse scandal at that school. One of the two accused molesters, former teacher Mark Berndt, was arrested January 30, 2012, despite the fact that accusations against him date back for more than a decade.

It should be pointed out (since much of the public seems to forget or is simply ignorant of the fact) that principals are teachers’ supervisors and are ultimately responsible for all that happens at a school. When credible allegations of abuse are made, it is the principals’ responsibility (not the unions’) to follow up and report them to the appropriate authorities. And when disciplinary actions are initiated against a teacher, it is the union’s responsibility to defend the teacher’s due process rights, since not all abuse allegations are credible or valid. Yet when it is clear that a teacher is guilty of gross abuse (e.g., molestation, violence), there is little the union can do to protect that teacher’s job, nor is there any reason why it should want to.


  1. Thank you for this. The union is pretty much complicit with the district when it comes to railroading innocent teachers, and hundreds have been wrongfully terrminated this year alone, while Deasy claims he cannot fire teachers, he has been denying them due process and making a sport of it. In the meantime , UTLA has ignored this and complied with all of his unreasonable demands because they see the writing on the wall: LAUSD is mobpving into privatized status but not until it has cleansed the teaching staff of most if not all veteen teahers ( anyone with 5 or more years on the job is, according to Deasy, "of no value" to him.
    However, when perverts are identified, Deasy, just like Cortines, moves in to cover the district's asterick. Cortines belongs in jail as does the staff relations personell involed in the George Hernandez case. The sub ( an at will employee) was finally confronted about his antics when a third child was reported as violated by him. His credential was not reported. Instead LAUSD kept it as leverage . He was convinced to resign with that, a letter of reccomendation and most likely a tidy sum. He went on to work at Inglewood USD, where he videotaped himslef molesting a little girl. Her mother and IUSD are rightously outraged. They are suing LAUSD and since this happened there are reports that if you are a teacher from LAUSD, it is unlikely you will be hired for fear you are another deviant cast off.
    This pretty much how Mark Berndt was handled in terms of the credential. All Deasy had to do to keep him out of the classroom and off the payroll was report him to CTC. If you'll recall Deasy failed to inform parents about the possible molestations, endangering the youngsters who could have been infected with STDs, AIDs or Hep given the use of bodily fluids in these sick tasting games. Deasy's criminal indifference, his lies about police proceedure and efforts to interfere with a criminal investigation are documented by many published stories covering the Miramonte scandal. Why is he still superintendent? Why isn't he being prosecuted? Why hasn't CTC yanked his credential?
    To make a correction in your headline, I feel, is the least important rsponse I have in this post but I must tell you these teachers were not fired. To fire them would be counterintuitive since Deasy wanted them to be silent. Firing them would only liberate their voices. In a way, what he did was far worse.
    He had all 86 or so teachers housed at Augustus Hawkins HS not far from MES. Up until a few weeks ago they sat there daily, fully paid to do nothing. They were warned not to discuss what they knew with anyone. Deasy proceeded to samsh the culture of silence, he says in the articles you got this misinformation from. The implications are clear. It is not his fault the largest primary school in CA ith year round scheduling and profound daily issues like overcrowding, poverty, crime, pollution, ESL, illiteracy and illegal status as citizens was supervised by a mere 4 administrators when schools half its size have 8 . It is not his fault the principal wasn't warned this teacher had previous investigations on record. But that culture of silence is all lausd . Many teachers, myself included, have reported abuse and ended up the ones who are fired. The district sent my credential in to CTC, i called the office up and spoke to a weary woman who told me that LAUSD always tries to get the commission to do its dirty work. My credential was reviewed and cleared, but I was I was still rubber stamped through by the school board with a bunch of other teachers. They didn't even look at the files.
    Now Deasy is getting fluff pieces written by th same reporters who caught him lie after lie and he has parlayed Miramonte into a crusade to fire teachers with just himself and the board as due process. Teachers are not getting any due process now and if Deasy has his way we will all be at will wage slaves. Thank you so much for putting him on blast.

  2. I wish more of the public would listen, and become aware what you're saying is true.

  3. Http://
    For more about Miramonte, administrators, CTC and perverse policies about perverts.