Tuesday, May 13, 2008



A rant by smf

In the following article Pair Charged in Abuse Case are Back in School  the LA Times seems to be rushing into the vacuum left by the departure of Ron Kay as editor of the Daily News to become bashers-in-chief of the LAUSD.

Last week the Supe don't return the Times' phone calls …and now this?

I say this in apology and bon voyage to Kay; there is plenty wrong with LAUSD - but the District is not alone in bad adult behavior in our City of Angels - and also is not totally to blame for the bad stuff ongoing at out schools. Look deeper.

I'm going to try to deconstruct the Times article in the order presented:

It begins:

"Los Angeles County prosecutors were sharply critical Monday of L.A. school district Supt. David L. Brewer's decision to send two high school administrators back to work on campus after they were criminally charged with failing to report a student's claims that she was sexually abused by a substitute teacher.

"David Demerjian, head of the Los Angeles district attorney's Public Integrity Division, said it's "very unusual" for public officials accused of a crime to be allowed to return to their jobs -- particularly when they deal with children.

"'It is very surprising. We prosecute a lot of public employees, and they are usually placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the trial,' he said."

While this article is about one thing, it's in actuality a sidebar to the celebrated Steven Rooney affair.

The original allegations against Vice Principal Rooney were that he threatened a parent and sexually abused a student. The very district attorney's office pointing a finger here failed to bring charges against Rooney in that case — setting up a situation where Rooney was allowed to return to his job and apparently his misbehavior.

Because, Gentle Reader, after Rooney being placed on administrative leave there was no trial to pend the outcome of.

It seems from my experience watching the opening  for "Law & Order" that it’s the job of law enforcement (the police) to investigate and the District Attorney to prosecute the Steven Rooneys of this world. And it seems to me that they didn't do that job at all.

In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups. The police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.

Instead the DA seems intent on going after two administrators who failed to report an incident of alleged abuse. The law calling for educators to report allegations of abuse is unambiguous - but educators also need to carefully bring their professional judgment into play; when is an allegation an allegation?

Nobody wants a McMartin Witchhunt or a Rooney Coverup on their watch. And Rooney wasn't even covered up - it was reported …but not followed up on.

The law requires educators, medical professionals and one hour photo shop employees to report allegations, suspicions or evidence of child abuse There is legislation pending in Sacramento to add computer techs who discover kiddie porn on a customer's computer to the list. Failure to do so is not a sex crime, it's a misdemeanor.

But who is holding whom responsible for failing to bring charges - failing to perform their public duty - when the allegations are there — and the evidence when investigated is preponderant - if not damning?

When one reads further into the article one sees that all kinds of administrate penalties and corrective action have been assessed against the two administrators who failed to report - and one needs to note that they are not alleged perpetrators, they are alleged to have failed to do the paperwork. Based on the DA's record in the Rooney case why should they have bothered?

And before I let anyone off the hook, let's look at this:

"Brewer, in an interview with The Times, defended the decision to return the administrators.

"He said they were needed back on campus to avoid disruptions -- particularly with state academic testing this week and graduation scheduled in the next few weeks."

It's about testing?

Please! - smf

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