Law Final3


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Law Final3

  1. 1. Michael Parent Ed. Law Final 1 Innocence Denied: Critique and Action Plan Constructive Critique and Analysis In Innocence Denied: A Guide to Preventing Sexual Misconduct By Teachers and Coaches, Fibkins highlights and exposes the critical issue of sexual misconduct by teachers, staff, and coaches in schools. Most importantly, Fibkins argues that teachers and staff have been asked to become more than simply instructors and employees; educational movements over the last twenty years has pushed the professional to include mentoring and advising students in matters beyond academics. Yet , they have not received effective training in how to do this without understanding the nature of these types of relationships. Fibkins also notes that school administrators have failed to provide adequate and proper models for student supervision, student-teacher relationship monitoring, not have effective and clear guidelines for intervention for all faculty been developed and implemented. Thus Fibkins urges schools to take immediate and proactive measures regarding sexual misconduct in the school building. Fibkins establishes the premise that a good many teachers who find themselves in improper relationships with students are not sexual predators. Rather, he notes, they are teachers who wound up in a bad place with a student
  2. 2. Michael Parent Ed. Law Final 2 either due to personal emotional or psychological circumstances or because of the lack of established healthy boundaries. In conjunction with Fibkis’ work, May Ann Manos’ book Rumors, Lies, and Whispers: Classroom ‘Crush’ or Career Catastrophe examines the role that some students play in making sexual allegations against teachers. Manos’ book offers teachers and administrators a glimpse of the other side of reported sexual misconduct by teachers – the false allegation. She writes of the “Lolita Complex”; students who feel needed or wanted by an adult and expresses these desires through sexual messages and seductive behaviors (p.13). “Consequently”, she writes, “teachers may serve as parental substitutes or the object of romantic fantasies by their students” (p. 13). Her premise is not that students should share blame in improper student-teacher relations, but that if teachers are trained to see the signs of the “Lolita Complex” in students they will be better armed to deal with these types of students should they indeed express themselves in a sexual or seductive manner. As a point of edification, Manos offers readers checklists and points of observation when dealing with potentially dangerous students. Relevant Laws and Policies
  3. 3. Michael Parent Ed. Law Final 3 New Jersey State statutes 18A:6-7a entitled “Alleged child abuse, neglect by school employee; no use if unfounded” outlines the administrative procedures for all public school employees regarding alleged abuses. In short, it states, “When a complaint made against a school employee alleging child abuse or neglect is investigated by the Department of Children and Families, the department shall notify the school district and the employee of its findings ( bin/om_isapi.dll? clientID=217823525&Depth=2&depth=2&expandheadings=on&headin gswithhits=on&hitsperheading=on&infobase=statutes.nfo&recor d={751B}&softpage=Doc_Frame_PG42). Subsequently, each public school district in New Jersey is required to have a Board of Education policy that addresses inappropriate staff conduct as well as regulations and procedures for reporting perceived and discovered improprieties. The Dumont school board has annually publishes and provides training on BOE Policy #3281 which, “…provide[s] guidance and direction to avoid actual and/or the appearance of inappropriate staff conduct and conduct unbecoming a school staff member toward pupils.” Dumont also disseminates and annually trains the staff and administration the particulars of BOE Policy #3362 (Sexual Harassment) and
  4. 4. Michael Parent Ed. Law Final 4 Policy #5512.01 (Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying) which outlines the reporting, investigating, administrative procedures in the event that a student or staff member wants to report sexual harassment or intimidation. However, as Fauske et al. note, “School board policies on sexual harassment and teacher relations appear to be insufficient to guide professional educators” (p.9). They advise administrators to not only more intensly train their staffs, but to implement a more rigorous interviewing process that screens teacher candidates more closely. In short, Fauske et al. believe that the recent studies exposing the depth of teacher-student sexual misconduct should give administrators a sense of urgency regarding sexual misconduct training, teacher supervising, and adopting more direct district policies that go beyond the required sexual harassment policy. Staff Development Plan Utilizing Fibkins’ and Fauske et al.’s work, I would work with my board attorney, local prosecutors, and the NJEA legal defense department to develop a comprehensive professional code of conduct briefing for all employees. This type of collective effort will allow all points of view to be discussed and vetted. During the “ethics training”, the staff would be able
  5. 5. Michael Parent Ed. Law Final 5 to study real cases, ask questions of the representative bodies, and examine their own relations with students. Asa result, the district would most likely be better prepared for the potential dangers they may encounter should allegations be levied against a teacher or support staff. A staff development plan would focus on how to have appropriate and acceptable relations with classroom students, how to set limits on the relationships, proper student mentoring, proper athletic relationships, and how to recognize and report when colleagues may be involved in improper relationships with students. Also, the staff would receive training on how to spot potentially needy students (“Lolita Complex” candidates). In turn, the schools’ student leadership and targeted parent organizations would also receive the same training. With this type of comprehensive and cross-generational programming, students, staff, and parents would have clear and healthy boundaries from which to build a positive school climate.
  6. 6. Michael Parent Ed. Law Final 6 References Fauske, J. R., Mullen, C. A., & Sutton, L. C. (2006, November). Educator Sexual Misconuct in School: Implications for Leadership Preparation (University Council for Educational Administration Convention). San Antonio: 2006. Fibkins, William L., Innocence Denied: A Guide to Preventing Sexual Misconduct By Teachers and Coaches, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2006. Manos, Mary A., Rumors, Lies, and Whispers: Classroom ‘Crush’ or Career Catastrophe, Prager Publishers, 2004.