Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Schools fail to document serious complaints, including child molestation in Carlsbad and teacher crimes in CVESD

Ten years ago I was amazed at the knee-jerk cover-up that occurred at my school, Castle Park Elementary in Chula Vista, regarding crimes committed by teachers. Ironically, my principal made a note of the fact that a district administrator didn't want reports written down. Of course, many things do get written down, and when that happens, the documents are often concealed.

The fact that Carlsbad schools claimed to have little or no record of complaints about Raymond Firth is not surprising. Vista Unified didn't appear to know much about David Irving Hatch, either. In fact, SDCOE-JPA enthusiastically supports concealment of what goes on in schools.

CARLSBAD: Parents of molested schoolgirls want policy changes
June 24, 2012

When a North County jury last week awarded $4.5 million to two young girls molested in the classroom by their Carlsbad elementary school teacher, the girls' mothers said they had wanted something more than money ---- they wanted policy changes.

The parents said they wanted Carlsbad Unified School District officials to monitor teachers better, document parental complaints better and notify parents when charges are filed accusing a teacher of criminal wrongdoing in the classroom.

"I really wanted the public to know how Carlsbad handled this and covered it up," said the mother of one of the victims. "It was never about the money for me."

...After Firth was sent to prison, the parents of the two victims ---- at least three girls have come forward ---- sued the district on behalf of their daughters. During the month-long trial, jurors heard testimony from parents who said that they had complained about catching Firth in potentially inappropriate interactions with young female students, including holding hands, placing them on their lap and being alone with them in the classroom.

According to David Ring, the Los Angeles-based attorney who represented the two girls during the civil trial, Firth said school officials had talked to him about such matters about eight separate times.

But the school had little to no substantial documentation of parental complaints, Ring said.

"We can't make them change the policy," Ring said, "but the public can."

Jurors found the school district was negligent in supervising Firth, and found it was 40 percent responsible for what happened to the children...

"The point of the lawsuit was policy change," the mother of the other victim said.

Whether or how such changes were made remains hazy. In an interview last week, school board President Kelli Moors declined to say whether the case prompted specific policy changes.

But Moors said that "every time any incident happens, we do use them as training opportunities. ... When incidents happen, we use that to reexamine things."

"I know that in the wake of this incident, all of our administrators have undergone thorough training," Moors said. "For some it was a refresher, for others it was new. We have been diligent about making sure that we learn from this and making sure administration learns from this."

In October 2007, a young girl disclosed that her teacher, Raymond Firth, had groped her. Police were notified and administrators pulled Firth from the classroom.

Parents were not told about the allegations, nor were they told when ---- after a year of investigation by police ---- prosecutors charged the teacher with lewd and lascivious acts with children...