Category Archives: sexual abuse in schools

Principal as Protector

A principal’s job is to protect his/her students.  However in those rare instances when principals don’t play their role, students suffer.

Where do I start?

I honestly don’t know where to start with this one.  You hear about it so often that you become numb to it.  Yet daily, there’s some kind of story that depicts an educator taking advantage of a student in a sexual manner.  Often times then not, these predators face no jail time and depending on how strong their union is, many get to keep their licenses.  The lack of morality exhibited by some educators is indeed a Black-eye on the profession.

Principal as Protector.

When I think about my time as a principal, I think about how it was my job to protect my students.  To shield students from harm and ensure their safety.  I wanted to be that person that students and families could come to if there were uncertainty.  These are the types of qualities that I view are essential to the principalship.

At a Lost for Words.

If you know me, you know I’m never at a lost for words.  But if I may be candid, this one is too close to home not to feel a certain way about it.  We witness educators who exhibit questionable judgment daily.  Research from 2004 states the abuse that happens in Catholic schools pales in comparison to the injury that occurs in public schools.  Typing this has me feeling sickly. But even with these feelings, if we aren’t pushing the conversation forward, how are we protecting our students?

Riverhead High School Principal.

Our school, the Riverhead Charter School, is located within the Riverhead School District.  We attract 50% or more of our students from the District.  So when I say this is close to home, it really is close to home.  The Riverhead High School principal is accused of having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a student.  While I fully support everyone having their day in court, this one is different.  As a principal of a school, your job is to protect your students.  Our students leave us in 8th grade and move on to high school.  This could have been one of my students.

                                                  District Stance.

I couldn’t imagine being the superintendent in this district.  The principal has been reassigned with pay pending the investigation.  According to reports, the school district could not immediately fire the principal due to his tenure.  Everyone believes that there can only be one outcome.  I’m a pessimist when it comes down to things like this.  I’ve seen privilege make the worst situations seem not so bad.

My immediate takeaways.

It’s important to highlight that our charter school, currently a K-8 charter school, serves as somewhat of a feeder to the Riverhead Central School District.  Our pool of students is about 50%, RCSD residents.  As a result, many of my in-district students end up going back for High School within the district. 

Riverhead Charter School Needs a High School.

I say this to say a couple of things, 1) We need a high School ASAP.  Fortunately for us, we were approved to go up to grade 12, but our 9th grade doesn’t start until 20-21.  2) There’s a high level of trust that must be maintained between our school and the district.  Currently, we have no working relationship with our district.  Last summer I met with the District’s highest official, and the response was a cold one.  I was told that my school is the competition.  My response was classic, “the only people we are in competition with is ourselves.”

What if the Principal was Black?

Now for the ultimate wrinkle: What if this principal were black or Latinx?  I know some folks will say, why do we always have to talk about race?  My response to that statement is, why would we not talk about race?  Especially in a country that continually ignores its working poor.  As a society, we need to have more conversations centered around equity, and sometimes the lack thereof.  Especially when it comes down to students receiving a fair opportunity to learn.


Keeping Our Students Safe!

Keeping our students Safe!

Why do we send our kids to school?  Short answer: To learn; Long answer: We believe in schools keeping our students safe.

In essence, I can’t wrap head around it.  As a parent, I know why I send my children to school.  From the standpoint of a former student, I understood why my mother sent me to school.  As I currently negotiate with my four-year-old about going to school, she knows that she goes to school to learn.  Parents send their children to school to learn.

Sexual Abuse in Schools:

Are we doing enough to prepare our kids for sexual predators in schools?  I recently read an article about sexual abuse in Catholic schools.  108 educators were accused, and the article stated, “This was just the tip of the iceberg.”

Teachers as Caregivers:

Overall, parents trust teachers.  Sometimes to the detriment of their kids.  Teachers sometimes don’t understand where the disconnect between school and home comes into play.  Part of that disconnect comes when parents entrust their most valuable assets (their children) in the care of educators.  Some educators take this act seriously. Others don’t.

Teachers as Role Models:

Regardless of your acceptance of being a role model, as an educator, you are a role model by default.  Embracing this is also embracing your responsibility in keeping our kids safe.  We can all agree; there’s no room for sexual predators in this profession. It becomes frustrating when every other story is a story about abuse.  Kids deserve better than they are receiving.  They deserve alert parents who ask the right questions.  We have to do better. We have to keep our students safe.

OAN Taking Matters in Our Own Hands:

This is what happens when taking matters into your own hands goes wrong.

In other news, where do you draw the line with protecting your child from bullies?  Should your child being bullied ever result in your taking matters into your own hands?  My mind and my heart both say no.  However, as a parent, I understand the anguish experienced by parents when they send their children to school expecting them to be safe.  Moreover, as parents, we have to set the expectations for our students.  I think there was a way to be impassioned, as well as send the message that you won’t be bullying my child without the parent physically assaulting the student.