With sexual violence increasing, predatory teachers are often allowed to abuse children for decades, a conservative group claims
US public school employees who sexually abuse children are typically moved to different schools three times before they are finally arrested, preying on as many as 73 victims before they are eventually punished, according to a new report by a conservative think tank.
Published last week by the Defense of Freedom Institute, the report details hundreds of cases in which teachers in public school districts were accused of abuse, but had their records scrubbed before being moved to new positions, where the abuse continued.
Citing earlier research by the Government Accountability Office, the report noted that firing teachers can be a costly process for school districts. As such, the districts often negotiate confidentiality agreements with unions whereby a teacher can resign or be demoted to avoid disciplinary action, before being transferred to another school with a clean slate.
The average employee accused of abuse is passed to three different school districts before facing legal consequences, and can abuse up to 73 children in this time.
This system has allowed sexual assault to proliferate, the report claimed. According to the most recent Department of Education data, 13,799 cases of sexual violence and 685 cases of rape or attempted rape were recorded in schools during the 2017-2018 school year, up from 9,649 and 394 in 2015-2016.
In one case highlighted in the report, a creative writing teacher at a Florida high school began abusing teenage girls in 2004, encouraging one to write sexually explicit material and coaxing her into performing oral sex on him. When school district officials were tipped off about multiple such cases, the teacher was transferred to another school in 2011 with a glowing recommendation.
According to multiple lawsuits, the teacher molested at least three girls in the new school before he was finally arrested in 2016 when one victim went to the police. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison last March.
Former President Donald Trump's administration implemented new reporting requirements in 2019, and ordered the department's Office for Civil Rights to ensure that all reports of sexual abuse were investigated before a district could move an employee. According to the report, President Joe Biden's administration has not yet implemented these changes.
The report called on the Biden administration to immediately begin enforcement of these measures, and urged Congress to pass a law that would require schools to inform parents of any "violent criminal activity, including sexual abuse, that occur on school grounds, on school transportation, and in school-sponsored activities." States should also ban confidentiality agreements between unions and districts, and punish officials who fail to report abuse, it recommended.