Teachers Fired for Sex Abuse Often Find Jobs Elsewhere

Phillips Exeter AcademyThe Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team has been investigating child sexual abuse at New England private schools since the initial revelation of abuse at elite New England institutions.

The Spotlight Team’s investigation revealed that teachers who have been removed from their positions for sexually abusing students often find work as a teacher in other schools. Sometimes they are helped along with glowing recommendation letters from the schools they are leaving.

The investigative report revealed:

The Globe Spotlight Team, as part of its ongoing investigation of sexual misconduct at the region’s private schools, identified 31 educators since the 1970s who, after being accused of sexually exploiting, assaulting, or harassing students, moved on to work at other schools or other settings with children, sometimes with a warm recommendation letter in hand.

The investigation also revealed that 100 private schools in the region have seen sexual abuse allegations involving more than 300 students over the past 25 years.

So, why do these teachers find work again in a profession where they are going to be unsupervised in the presence of children? The Globe team noted a number of factors:

[It is] a toxic combination of schools and abusers alike trying to hush up scandals, schools failing to ask enough questions before hiring educators, and the fact that these are private institutions, with nothing like the scrutiny given their public counterparts. Private school teachers don’t even have to be licensed in most states, meaning it is harder for the state to block fired teachers from continuing to work in education and less likely for there to be a public record of any disciplinary action.

Many parents want to send their children to private schools because of their reputation for providing superior education and the relative lack of violence compared to public schools. But this Spotlight report and other recent scandals suggest that the prevalence of sexual abuse in private schools makes the choice between public and private school fuzzy.

Private schools want to protect their reputations and will often hide incidents of sexual abuse to protect the institution. This is wrong. Just like with the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts, and other institutions of trust, only with transparency about the full scope of an organization’s sexual abuse problem will children be safe.

Dumas and Vaughn Attorneys at Law has law offices in Portland, Oregon and serves clients in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and other states.

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