When Los Angeles school officials choose to protect their own image over the protection of the children they serve, they are mimicking the long-time behavior of Catholic Bishops who for years kept quiet about clergy predators in order to prevent “scandal”. Indeed, when will we ever learn?
Clearly, when there is even the slightest chance that children could be in harm’s way, parents and the community must be informed when and why a teacher has been removed from the classroom because of child molestation.
In an appalling display of cluelessness, in the cases of accused sexual abusers Paul Chapel, Vance Miller, and Mark Berndt, Los Angeles Unified School District officials failed to inform parents, despite having received reports of sexual abuse from multiple victims, why the teachers were removed. Incredibly, parents’ and students’ first knowledge that the teachers’ removal was for suspected child molestation came from local media reports.
This should lead us all to ask: How many other teachers have been removed from classrooms in recent years because of child molestation in which parents have not been informed? In fact, we know that the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) reported to the Los Angeles City Council that in 2008 alone 25 teachers had been removed from classrooms because of child molestations. Again, we must ask: How many children have suffered sexual abuse in silence because their parents were not provided enough information to know that they should be talking to their children about relationship boundaries and their vulnerability to abuse? How many parents unknowingly continued bringing their children back to where their abuse occurred day after day because school officials decided to place the interest of the teacher above that of children?
Los Angeles-based colleague Anthony DeMarco and I have worked for decades seeking justice and protection for children who have been abused, it is clear to us that LAUSD officials should immediately release the names of teachers who have been removed from classrooms because of child molestation.
However, because LAUSD has thus far refused to alert parents to the dangers their children have faced, our firm has posted a list of all teachers in Los Angeles County schools who have been confirmed were removed from classrooms because of child molestation on our website, www.abusedinsocal.com. We invite the community to look at this list and if a parent, student, or concerned citizen knows of additional teachers who have been convicted or charged with molesting children, or who has been removed from a classroom because of allegations of child molestation, to please inform us so those names can be added to the list.
For the safety and welfare of the children in our communities, parents must be informed that their children were directly exposed to such extreme danger.