An Inclusive Litany

8/17/98

In 1994 a Florida teacher was discovered to have coaxed a student into a sexual relationship that included oral and anal sex. The teacher resigned, but insisted on keeping his license so that he could work elsewhere. Despite support from the local affiliate of the National Education Association, an administrative law judge ruled in support of the Florida Department of Education by having his license permanently revoked, but only after two years and tens of thousands of dollars in legal and administrative costs. In 1989, a female teacher was caught naked with one of her students in a car near a public park, and having her license revoked took more than three years and cost close to $100,000.

In 1996, a San Francisco teacher was discovered placing six-year-old students in a trash can, closing the lid, and kicking the can, and was only suspended when a fellow teacher overheard her threatening to cut off a boy's private parts with a pair of scissors. Her dismissal cost $100,000, and she later obtained a teaching job elsewhere. Due to the difficulty in firing bad teachers stemming from heavy pressure from their unions, many are quietly traded to other school districts accompanied by good recommendations, a practice informally referred to by administrators as "passing the trash." In 1981, Robert Devaney resigned as a special-education teacher in Providence, Rhode Island, after a student complained that he had made sexual overtures. But Devaney got good references and taught in Charleston, New Hampshire, until 1986, when he was dismissed for sexual misconduct. The next year he resigned from a Connecticut junior high school following a complaint that he had asked to photograph a student nude in exchange for cash. He turned up again as a substitute teacher in Rhode Island, and finally wound up in jail in 1996 on a twenty-year sentence for sexually assaulting a special-education student and making sexually explicit videotapes and photographs of two other students. The judge who sentenced Devaney commented, "The employment background of this defendant who was shuffled from one school department to another, from one bureaucrat to the next, is a crime in itself."

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