When should principals call the police?

A Clayton County principal who waited 11 days before reporting a child sex abuse allegation to the police did not violate the law, according to a judge.

On Jan. 9, a 14-year-old girl reported that teacher and basketball coach Antonio Mahone summoned her to his classroom to give her some candy. He then hugged her and squeezed her buttocks, she told police.

Kendrick Middle School Principal Steve Hughes launched an investigation that same day. He turned in a report to the district on Jan. 15 saying the system’s lawyer should be notified, but added he could not substantiate that the incident occurred.

Hughes called the police on Jan. 20, after he after learned another teacher saw the girl upset after her encounter with Mahone.

The principal’s attorney said his client did what he was supposed to do.

But police and the county solicitor say the principal should have contacted the police immediately and let detectives investigate the situation.

Georgia law says school officials must call police within 24 hours when there is “reasonable cause to believe” a child has been abused.

Principals across the state and country have dealt with similar situations. What should principals and teachers do when they hear about incidents like this? Did the Clayton principal act correctly?

72 comments Add your comment

fred

March 26th, 2009
8:02 am

The principal should have called the police immediately after having found out about the allegation. There is absolutely no need for a principal to conduct an “Investigation” of his own to determine the validity of the charge. That is not his job, not in the students nor for that matter the teachers best interest. It serves only to save the school from potential embarrassment. A principal has neither the training nor the forensic equipment or skills to determine if a crime has been committed. As a principal myself, whenever there has been a charge of child abuse, the police and the child protective authorities have been contacted immediately. I feel that anything less is morally and ethically wrong. The principal in this case needs to re-examine what his priorities and job description are. Students safety needs to be first in line

Reality

March 26th, 2009
8:37 am

If the police were called every time any student “alledged” any thing, the police would be there all of the time.

In case you have never met a kid, sometimes they really do just ‘make things up.’ If a kid fails a test, of course it is the teacher’s fault and so the kid could just make something up to get her into trouble.

The principal in this case did the right thing. They investigated the allegation before taking the next step.

As a teacher years ago, a student claimed that I picked her up and threw her against the wall. She said that she screamed. The principal investigated her allegations – there was no scream (no one heard); she was holding an ice cream cone the entire time (how could this be if I violently picked her up and threw her against a wall?), and of course there is the obvious fact that she must have weighed 200 pounds and no way am I strong enough to lift that weight.

fred

March 26th, 2009
9:01 am

Taking 11 days to file a report with the police is doing the right thing? Not in my book. How do you think that student felt during those 11 days? Safe? I know I wouldn’t, nor would I want my daughters or any of my students to have to wait that amount of time.

VOICE

March 26th, 2009
9:07 am

Fred, you missed the point. Was there “reasonable cause to believe” that the child had been abused based solely on her accusation? Clearly, the answer is no. Only when the principal became aware that another teacher saw the girl upset was a “reasonable cause to believe” established. An accusation alone is insufficient to meet that standard. Furthermore, the principal should conduct a preliminary investigation before contacting anyone.

Reality, I agree with you. The schools simply cannot call the police everytime there is an allegation of abuse.

Lastly, here’s a thought. Let’s put a mini-precinct in every school. It seems like we’re headed that way anyhow.

jim d

March 26th, 2009
9:18 am

not reporting incidents is a bit of a sore spot with me. When a law is potentially broken i believe that law enforcement should be notified immediaatly. It is then there job to sort it out, school personel have absolutely no training (generally speaking) to investigate a crime.

I understand Reality’s concerns, but the bottom line is that I have no issues with a teacher having to defend themselves against possible false accusations in such serious matters. The thing is that if even one incident that actually happened was dismissed by someone less than competent in law enforcement you can be assured the incident will be repeated aginst even more students. Parents place their children,with trust,in the hands of what should be responsible adults. That trust must be warranted by the actions of the school system. In this case I feel they not only failed this child but have put others in harms way by not letting this teacher take some time off until a resolution is reached.

But then this is merely MHO

jim d

March 26th, 2009
9:41 am

“On Monday, the board voted not to terminate Mahone, but to move him to another school.”

I find the actions of the BOE unacceptable in this case and were they my BOE I would work to unelect every damn one of them. Hey but maybe they will still have a winning basketball team!

jim d

March 26th, 2009
9:45 am

REASONABLE CAUSE TO BELIEVE – To have knowledge of facts which, although not amounting to direct knowledge, would cause a reasonable person, knowing the same facts, to reasonably conclude the same thing.

I suppose a 50/50 chance of a he said she said incident doesn’t provide a reasonable person to conclude the incident may have actually happened?

Fulton Teacher

March 26th, 2009
10:28 am

A few years ago I was the new kid on the block at my middle school. A group of girls didn’t like the structure that I had in the classroom, so they tried their best to make my life a living hell. One of them completely made up a conversation that took place between us. Her mother demanded a conference and made all sorts of threats. When I also demanded a conference with the administration, her tune changed. She never bothered to show up! She soon realized that her little angel was a liar.

Unfortunately kids make up thnings all of the time. When it comes to sexual abuse, I think the principal should’ve notified the authorities. Regardless of the law, it’s the right thing to do. What would he have done if it were his daughter? The parents should’ve also reported the incident to the police. I know I would have.

jim d

March 26th, 2009
10:46 am

Fulton teach,

I commend your actions.

In Scouting, BSA has a policy called two deep leadership to eliminate many of these type of incidents. It might not be a bad idea for teachers to team up to support each other when meeting with a student rather than doing one on one meetings.

Reality2

March 26th, 2009
11:02 am

I agree with jim d. Let the police investigate. If the student made a falst accusation, let her face the legal consequence. The accused teacher will have to go through an investigation one way or the other.

V for Vendetta

March 26th, 2009
11:03 am

Yikes JimD, I wouldn’t want to teach in a school where you were the principal. Apparently, at your school, “reasonable cause” would equal “because a child said so.”

That’s a helluva dangerous precedent to set. It’s really hard to say whether or not the principal did the right thing without knowing the entirety of the story, but, having been in a situation of “he said, she said” before, I’m inclined to agree with him.

high school teacher

March 26th, 2009
11:11 am

I worked with a woman who was taken out of her classroom in handcuffs because a student alleged that the teacher had given her alcohol. Rather than investigate anything or even talk with the teacher, the administration called the police. After the situation was investigated and the girl confessed that she had made up the entire story, the teacher was allowed to re-enter the classroom and attempt to gain her reputation back. What a shame that she had to endure that ordeal because a child made a claim that wasn’t investigated.

jim d

March 26th, 2009
11:16 am

LOL V,

Not to worry–i wouldn’t have the job–it really doesn’t pay well enough.

I still contend, however, that the principal in question while perhaps not violating the letter of the law did in fact violate a sacred trust placed upon him by the community. I really don’t think that is any harsher than the discipline you advocate for students.

high school teacher

March 26th, 2009
11:30 am

Dear AJC, I am growing excessively tired of typing a post and not having it appear. Is this a problem on my end or your end? In either case, I will refrain from posting as I am growing increasingly tired of re-typing posts. By the way, my kids have been watching a movie this week, which is why I have been able to post during the day. I am still supervising my children :)

Caution needed

March 26th, 2009
11:48 am

The poster who said if every allegation led to an automatic call to police, the police would be at the schools every day is right. I knew a teacher who was accused of rape by a student. Should the police have been called? Before you answer that, note that the alleged “rape” occured, in the classroom, during regular instruction, and in front of twenty five other students, and the door to the class was open the entire time.

Of course not a single student confirmed the story, and her story fell apart as quickly as it started. Student was mad because mom was called for misbehavior. Should the police have been called? Yes, and they should have charged the student in question for filing a false charge, and suspended her for at least ten days, if not the rest of the school year. Of course that isn’t even remotely close to what happened.

DB

March 26th, 2009
12:03 pm

According to the story (and we all know how accurate the story may be), the girl reported being fondled. Anyway, we DON’T know, and since the girl reported the incident, the principal felt it was enough of an incident to turn it in to the county. The law says, “if there is reasonable cause to believe” — at what point does it become reasonable cause? Just on a say-so? Damn, half the teachers in the county would be in lock-up, if that was the case. Appparently, in this case, he was supposed to call the police, too. The erring to the side of caution wasn’t a coverup, by any means. If the other teacher witnessed the event, then why didn’t THAT teacher go to the police or step forward sooner? They were a witness, and the law doesn’t say, “only principals must report incidents of abuse.” Why didn’t the girl and her family report it, if they felt so strongly about it? God knows I would have, if it had been my daughter. Right now, the police are saying, “Oh, we would have jumped on this!”, but we all know that if they had come out that afternoon (two or three hours later, if they weren’t doing anything else more important) and interviewed everyone, they may have decided at the time that there was nothing inappropriate. Hindsight is a lovely thing. Would the other teacher have come forward at that time? Or would they have decided to keep quiet?

It sounds like an error in judgement, but not one that is punishable by death. While the “two-deep” system of talking to students is certainly an effective way of covering your butt, just in case, let’s face it, in a school situation, it’s just not practical. Kids stop you in the hall, they pop in the classroom at odd times, they hang back after practice to ask you something, they come in after a test ashamed of something . . . most kids want some kind of privacy when they are talking to a teacher about something.

VOICE

March 26th, 2009
12:14 pm

V, you’re on point. As a practical matter, calling in the police for every “he said/she said” situation is inherently unreasonable. With a student body of say @500, can you imagine how that school would operate? And, the kids would eventually play the system, as they do in so many other situations, to their advantage. You talk about CHAOS!

Again, let’s just put a mini-precinct in every school. We will probably need them eventually. lol

Reality

March 26th, 2009
12:34 pm

Reality2 – The problem with your approach of “letting the student making false accusations” face the consequences is that there are none. A student can lie and make up anything. When they are proven to be wrong, there are no consequences.

Remember that these are kids, not adults. The law rarely holds minors accountable – especially for “small” things like lies. And, in the meantime, the accused adult goes through hell and gets their reputation/career ruined (likely on the TV news, etc.) if it is turned over to the police.

Ernest

March 26th, 2009
12:35 pm

Situations like this help me understand why teachers are hesitant to hug students. It also sheds light on why some laws are passed that take discretion away from school officials. In fairness there is not enough information provided for me to say whether the principal took the appropriate action.

What do we know about the teacher? Coaches typically show some type of ‘encouragement’ to students, both verbally and physically. I recall being patted on the fanny during basketball practice/game when something good was done and never thought there was anything appropriate about that. Did this coach have a reputation of being ‘overly encouraging’ with students?

What do we know about the student? Was this one of the coaches’ players? Why was the student summoned to the coaches’ office? Was the candy a reward for doing something good?

What time of day did this occur? Were there other students and/or teachers around? Did this occur in the classroom or hallway?

There are a LOT of questions I’m sure the principal had also. I can see why the principal took the action they did because he wanted to make sure this rose to the level necessary to bring in the police. The story did not indicate whether Clayton Middle Schools have school resource officers on staff. I probably would have engaged that person (or someone in the school system) before calling the outside authorities.

Do we believe we should provide principals a ‘checklist’ to help them determine steps to take when allegations come before them? Should a law be written to establish guidelines? I always think back to the ‘tweety bird’ incident in Cobb County a few years ago when we ‘legislated’ away common sense.

If the principal made the incorrect decision, he should be reprimanded also. If we want to predetermine what/how decisions should be made, we should replace principals with robots and save on salaries.

jim d

March 26th, 2009
1:19 pm

Caution needed,

Did blowing the accusations against your friend out of the water take 11 days?

jim d

March 26th, 2009
1:22 pm

DB,

“Why didn’t the girl and her family report it, if they felt so strongly about it? God knows I would have, if it had been my daughter”

Actually if it had been one of my daughters at 14–they’d have been arresting me and I dare say that would be the case with most of our bloggers regardless of what they say here.

Reality2

March 26th, 2009
2:00 pm

I don’t know why so many people are against calling the police right away. If the police has to be on campus everyday, well, let them come there everyday. They know how to investigate, and they don’t lock up everyone who is accused. What are you afraid of? I think this is the mentality that invites all those frivolous law suits – they continue to do this because there is little consequence. Make every accusation a big deal so that they will think twice before making a false accusation.

Reality

March 26th, 2009
2:23 pm

Reality2 – As I have already written, one major reason to be “against it” is because the adult that may be innocent will get their reputation/career ruined. When any potential crime is report, the police have record. These are public records and the news media jumps on them. That very night, it will be on the 11 o’clock news about the “allegation.” The teacher’s reputation is destroyed.

Notice that when teachers/coaches are proven innocent by police, the news never reports on that. And, the liar kid never has any consequences.

This is why it is important for the principal to investigate the matter to see if what the child says has any validity to it.

As someone else has said, if the child and their parent feel that strongly (it really did happen), there is nothing to stop them from going to the police outside of school.

teach1

March 26th, 2009
2:59 pm

So, if the shoe is on the other foot – a child says mom or dad beat them or touched them inappropraitely, how would a parent want the teacher or princiapl to react? Do you call DFACS at the first word of the incident or is there reasonable cause stipulation for that one too?

jim d

March 26th, 2009
3:04 pm

Teach 1

There actually are laws and perscribed protocols that you as a teacher must follow if a child were to come to you in that instance. You have no options you are required to report it to DEFACS.

Should that same standard not apply to educators? and why not?

jim d

March 26th, 2009
3:11 pm

teach 1,

You bring up an interesting point here.

If a child comes to you to report abusive treatment at home you are required to report it. There is no school investigation into the factualality of the allegations. You simply report it and allow DEFACS to do their job. So what’s your real beef with reporting alleged accusations against teachers to the proper authorities and allowing them to do their job? What have you to fear from the truth?

VOICE

March 26th, 2009
3:22 pm

Common sense is DEAD! :)

Reality 2

March 26th, 2009
4:27 pm

Reality,

Child who makes a false accusation faces no consequence because police is not involved. Filing a false accusation is, I believe, a crime. Not involving police makes the situation worse.

jim d

March 26th, 2009
4:38 pm

Voice,

So is the great historian John Hope Franklin

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29881854/

VOICE

March 26th, 2009
5:22 pm

Jim d, Wow, what a loss! Thanks for the tip.

catlady

March 26th, 2009
5:25 pm

I saw a teacher’s career ruined because of a false report by an 11 year old boy. Although the teacher was “cleared” (it was obviously patently false) no one wanted him to teach their children and he left teaching. He was drummed out in the court of public opinion. Should he have had recompense from the student’s family and the way it was handled? Sure. Should the student have had to pay a penalty, like going to YDC and having counseling? Yes. (Actually I have seen this 3 times, but this one case I am most familiar with since it happened at my school).

So saying, I would always err on the side of caution with a report like this. Too bad teachers don’t have a DFACS (with their closed-mouth policy) to protect THEM.

Teach1

March 26th, 2009
5:26 pm

I know as a teacher that reporting is required. Hopefully, parents understand this when the report goes in. I am not allowed to use my best judgement. It is the law.

Jennifer

March 26th, 2009
5:37 pm

within 24 hours, no exception for potential claims of student abuse by a teacher.

Reality 2

March 26th, 2009
5:40 pm

catlady,

I realize this is a tough issue, but I don’t see why “erring the side of caution” should be not reporting the allegation to police – with sexual abuse, I would like to err on the side of children.

Lee

March 26th, 2009
6:10 pm

Fred, the very first blogger, was correct in his assessment that school administration does not have the requisite expertise to investigate an alleged CRIME. Actually, if the allegation is true, the principal can, by trying to investigate himself, tip off the perpetrator and allow them time to destroy evidence.

“But police and the county solicitor say the principal should have contacted the police immediately and let detectives investigate the situation.”

So, what we have here are the trained experts in law and investigation saying that the principal acted inappropriately.

I agree.

Dr. Craig Spinks /Evans

March 26th, 2009
7:26 pm

Thanks to the deceitful actions of self-serving educrats some years ago, GA law no longer requires the reporting of major crimes to local sheriffs. Rather, these crimes must now be reported to the appropriate local police agency(aka, the school system police force). Can we all say, “TRANSPARENCY?” But for the courageous actions of a local sheriff and former DA in east central GA, a former SOS and his school personnel officer in a certain local school system would have skated with impunity after their involvement in a sexual battery case wherein a substitute teacher was linked to several elementary school students in two schools. The sub pleaded out and out went the admins shortly thereafter. THANKS, Clay and Danny!

fred

March 26th, 2009
7:59 pm

I posted my first post early this morning, and have just sat down to read the rest of the discussion that has taken place during the day. While many of you have brought up valid and thoughtful insights, I stand by my original post. The principal should have notified the police. I stated in my first post that “whenever there has been a charge of child abuse, the police and the child protective authorities have been contacted immediately” I did not mention that it mattered one bit who the alleged abuser was. Parent, sibling, friend, stranger or teacher, Assault and Battery (whether sexual in nature or not) are crimes. If we choose not to see them as such then we are part of the problem. Choosing not to notify the police because “they wont do anything anyways”, or because if a student makes something up the police wont charge them with making a false accusation is a cop out. We have as our first duty to protect and ensure the safety of the children that are entrusted to us. If we fail to that part of our job seriously we have failed. Yes there will be cases where students lie and nothing happens to them, but in my heart, I would rather go through a false allegation than know that my lack of action endangered any one child. That is what I live with and allows me to sleep at night. Eventually, if this becomes a police issue as it should be, those that do file false reports will be charged. We can not just keep the status quo in my opinion.

fred

March 26th, 2009
8:01 pm

(Attempt number 2) I posted my first post early this morning, and have just sat down to read the rest of the discussion that has taken place during the day. While many of you have brought up valid and thoughtful insights, I stand by my original post. The principal should have notified the police. I stated in my first post that “whenever there has been a charge of child abuse, the police and the child protective authorities have been contacted immediately” I did not mention that it mattered one bit who the alleged abuser was. Parent, sibling, friend, stranger or teacher, Assault and Battery (whether sexual in nature or not) are crimes. If we choose not to see them as such then we are part of the problem. Choosing not to notify the police because “they wont do anything anyways”, or because if a student makes something up the police wont charge them with making a false accusation is a cop out. We have as our first duty to protect and ensure the safety of the children that are entrusted to us. If we fail to that part of our job seriously we have failed. Yes there will be cases where students lie and nothing happens to them, but in my heart, I would rather go through a false allegation than know that my lack of action endangered any one child. That is what I live with and allows me to sleep at night. Eventually, if this becomes a police issue as it should be, those that do file false reports will be charged. We can not just keep the status quo in my opinion.

fred

March 26th, 2009
8:02 pm

(attempt number 3) I posted my first post early this morning, and have just sat down to read the rest of the discussion that has taken place during the day. While many of you have brought up valid and thoughtful insights, I stand by my original post. The principal should have notified the police. I stated in my first post that “whenever there has been a charge of child abuse, the police and the child protective authorities have been contacted immediately” I did not mention that it mattered one bit who the alleged abuser was. Parent, sibling, friend, stranger or teacher, Assault and Battery (whether sexual in nature or not) are crimes. If we choose not to see them as such then we are part of the problem. Choosing not to notify the police because “they wont do anything anyways”, or because if a student makes something up the police wont charge them with making a false accusation is a cop out. We have as our first duty to protect and ensure the safety of the children that are entrusted to us. If we fail to that part of our job seriously we have failed. Yes there will be cases where students lie and nothing happens to them, but in my heart, I would rather go through a false allegation than know that my lack of action endangered any one child. That is what I live with and allows me to sleep at night. Eventually, if this becomes a police issue as it should be, those that do file false reports will be charged. We can not just keep the status quo in my opinion.

fred

March 26th, 2009
8:03 pm

Attempted to post a reply 4 times now. This is getting a bit frustrating dear AJC

fred

March 26th, 2009
8:03 pm

(attempt number 4) I posted my first post early this morning, and have just sat down to read the rest of the discussion that has taken place during the day. While many of you have brought up valid and thoughtful insights, I stand by my original post. The principal should have notified the police. I stated in my first post that “whenever there has been a charge of child abuse, the police and the child protective authorities have been contacted immediately” I did not mention that it mattered one bit who the alleged abuser was. Parent, sibling, friend, stranger or teacher, Assault and Battery (whether sexual in nature or not) are crimes. If we choose not to see them as such then we are part of the problem. Choosing not to notify the police because “they wont do anything anyways”, or because if a student makes something up the police wont charge them with making a false accusation is a cop out. We have as our first duty to protect and ensure the safety of the children that are entrusted to us. If we fail to that part of our job seriously we have failed. Yes there will be cases where students lie and nothing happens to them, but in my heart, I would rather go through a false allegation than know that my lack of action endangered any one child. That is what I live with and allows me to sleep at night. Eventually, if this becomes a police issue as it should be, those that do file false reports will be charged. We can not just keep the status quo in my opinion.

fred

March 26th, 2009
8:04 pm

(attempt number 5) I posted my first post early this morning, and have just sat down to read the rest of the discussion that has taken place during the day. While many of you have brought up valid and thoughtful insights, I stand by my original post. The principal should have notified the police. I stated in my first post that “whenever there has been a charge of child abuse, the police and the child protective authorities have been contacted immediately” I did not mention that it mattered one bit who the alleged abuser was. Parent, sibling, friend, stranger or teacher, Assault and Battery (whether sexual in nature or not) are crimes. If we choose not to see them as such then we are part of the problem. Choosing not to notify the police because “they wont do anything anyways”, or because if a student makes something up the police wont charge them with making a false accusation is a cop out. We have as our first duty to protect and ensure the safety of the children that are entrusted to us. If we fail to that part of our job seriously we have failed. Yes there will be cases where students lie and nothing happens to them, but in my heart, I would rather go through a false allegation than know that my lack of action endangered any one child. That is what I live with and allows me to sleep at night. Eventually, if this becomes a police issue as it should be, those that do file false reports will be charged. We can not just keep the status quo in my opinion.

fred

March 26th, 2009
8:05 pm

(attempt number 6) I posted my first post early this morning, and have just sat down to read the rest of the discussion that has taken place during the day. While many of you have brought up valid and thoughtful insights, I stand by my original post. The principal should have notified the police. I stated in my first post that “whenever there has been a charge of child abuse, the police and the child protective authorities have been contacted immediately” I did not mention that it mattered one bit who the alleged abuser was. Parent, sibling, friend, stranger or teacher, Assault and Battery (whether sexual in nature or not) are crimes. If we choose not to see them as such then we are part of the problem. Choosing not to notify the police because “they wont do anything anyways”, or because if a student makes something up the police wont charge them with making a false accusation is a cop out. We have as our first duty to protect and ensure the safety of the children that are entrusted to us. If we fail to that part of our job seriously we have failed. Yes there will be cases where students lie and nothing happens to them, but in my heart, I would rather go through a false allegation than know that my lack of action endangered any one child. That is what I live with and allows me to sleep at night. Eventually, if this becomes a police issue as it should be, those that do file false reports will be charged. We can not just keep the status quo in my opinion.

Fred

March 26th, 2009
8:06 pm

(attempt number 7) I posted my first post early this morning, and have just sat down to read the rest of the discussion that has taken place during the day. While many of you have brought up valid and thoughtful insights, I stand by my original post. The principal should have notified the police. I stated in my first post that “whenever there has been a charge of child abuse, the police and the child protective authorities have been contacted immediately” I did not mention that it mattered one bit who the alleged abuser was. Parent, sibling, friend, stranger or teacher, Assault and Battery (whether sexual in nature or not) are crimes. If we choose not to see them as such then we are part of the problem. Choosing not to notify the police because “they wont do anything anyways”, or because if a student makes something up the police wont charge them with making a false accusation is a cop out. We have as our first duty to protect and ensure the safety of the children that are entrusted to us. If we fail to that part of our job seriously we have failed. Yes there will be cases where students lie and nothing happens to them, but in my heart, I would rather go through a false allegation than know that my lack of action endangered any one child. That is what I live with and allows me to sleep at night. Eventually, if this becomes a police issue as it should be, those that do file false reports will be charged. We can not just keep the status quo in my opinion.

Alecia

March 26th, 2009
9:23 pm

This reminds me of an incident that happened when I was in middle school back in the dark ages (80’s). Anyway, a boy grabbed a girl inappropriately during homeroom. Girl got upset and yelled at him in class. She complained right away. Teacher was distracted with something else. However, nothing was done to the boy. He was not even suspended. Ten years after the incident this boy was arrested as a serial rapist. He is still doing time. Abuse should be investigated and not taken lightly. Not all children lie.

Reality

March 27th, 2009
8:30 am

Reality2 – You still don’t get it. Yes, a reporting a false crime is against the law. But no one would prosecute an 8 year old for telling a lie. It just won’t happen. So, in the meantime, that lie can totally ruin a persons career and life.

Also, the analogy with DFACS is completely wrong. DFACS simply investigates. It is not “the law”. Even when DFACS suspects something wrong in the home, they just remove the child. Rarely is the law involved unless there is hard evidence of sexual abuse or severe physical abuse.

If there is any similarity, think of it this way….. DFACS is to bad parents as the principal is to bad teachers. In both cases, DFACS and the principal does the investigation. And, if evidence is there THEN the law is involved.

Reality 2

March 27th, 2009
8:48 am

Adults can take care of themselves. We should always defend children. For you, teacher job security is THE most important thing, at any cost, it seems like.

Reality

March 27th, 2009
9:20 am

Fred,

As I responded to Reality2, a child will NEVER be charged by the law for a lie. Any such threat is shallow, indeed. However, that lie can totally ruin a persons career and life. Teachers are regularly plastered all over the news for allegations. Never do they show on the news that the teacher was proven innocent.

I am sensitive to this because my sister (a teacher) was falsely accused of something years ago. Her name and face was on the 6 and 11 news every day for a week. She was innocent and eventually found to be so. But, it was too late for her career. She literally had to move with her family to a different part of the State to start her life over. Of course, nothing was done to the child that lied.

Dr. Craig Spinks /Evans

March 28th, 2009
2:48 am

I like (F)red’s Wisdom, Persistence and Courage. (F)red, we need more like ye.

Practical

March 28th, 2009
9:36 am

I think an investigation into allegations by school personnel is acceptable. The principal not only has a responsibililty to keep students safe, he/she also has a legal responsibility to his/her staff.

Because I do not have access to all the facts, I am hesitant to suggest a solution to this situation. What the heck, this is a blog.
I will say that the principal’s timeline concerns me. I think once the allegation was received, he should have talked to the student. He then should have talked to the teacher. If it was the classic he said, she said then the principal should have talked to all other witnesses. The principal should have then consulted with his SRO (police officer in the school who is sensitive to school issues). The parents then should have been notified that the school is investigating or have investigated this allegation. The parent should be presented with the school findings. The principal then should have shared with the parents how he plans to proceed with the matter; whether it be follow county policy and turn the issue over to the central office or do nothing because there was not enough evidence. The parent then should have been told that although the school/SRO found no evidence that child abuse occured, parents have the right to contact law enforcement about the matter.

My hats go off to good principals. Your career is in jeopardy each and every day you walk into a school. You are at the mercy of students, parents, teachers (and their professional organizations),cafeteria workers, secretaries, counselors, custodians, media specialists,volunteers, guest speakers,special interest groups, central office staff,superintendents/school boards and the community at large (including the media). All of these people have the at will potential to impact your career. WOW, that is something to think about!

After this entry, I am going to send an e-mail of thanks to my child’s principal. AJC bloggers, I hope you do the same!