While the rest of the country is ridiculously consumed by the fear that some perverted transgender person is going to molest them in a bathroom stall, the real boogeymen are in the places that our children spend about 80 percent of their waking hours. Their schools.
We send our kids to school every day, trusting that our school district has taken the proper steps to ensure that they are safe, but it’s becoming more and more clear that this just isn’t the case. WFAA Texas uncovered recently that Nationwide, “496 teachers were arrested last year – more than one a day.” In Texas, “the number of reports of student-teacher inappropriate relationships has hit a record high, according to the Texas Education Agency (TEA).”
It seems that when these teachers are turned into their principals and subsequently fired or asked to resign, the schools have not been diligent about reporting these teachers to their district superintendent’s office, who is then required by state law to report them to the TEA.
That will trigger an investigation from us,” said Doug Phillips, TEA’s director of educator investigations in Austin.
Once the TEA investigation starts, the teacher’s online certificate is flagged so that schools that he or she may apply to later on will see that there is either an ongoing or previous investigation or complaint — whatever may be the issue. Unfortunately, these policies are not being enforced as was discovered in the case of Dallas ISD teacher, Michael D’Spain.
Back in 2010, Tiger Darrow, a student at Booker T. Washington Highschool for the Performing and Visual Arts, was sexually harassed and abused by D’Spain, who was her music teacher.
It started out pretty innocently. Tiger said that if she had a question about something related to her music studies she would send him a text, but things eventually took a turn. He started responding with more personal things, “His responses were more about me as a human, rather than me as a student,” she recalled. Then, he began sending things like this:
[Want] to rip ur clothes off.
She reports that at 17 she “didn’t know how to deflect it really” and it quickly escalated. She was asked to stay late one day where he then sexually assaulted her.
After she eventually reported him to the school, he resigned and Booker T. Washington’s principal assured the family that he would NEVER teach again. This was not the case, as it was discovered by WFAA. D’Spain had left Booker T. and was quickly hired by Irving ISD (outside of Dallas) as a music teacher at an elementary school. Booker T. reported him to the DISD Superintendent, but the Superintendent sat on it. Because they have yet to comment, we can only assume that the district didn’t want their reputation soured by such scandalous news.
D’Spain was finally arrested in 2011, but it took 8 months for an investigation to start because DISD dragged its feet for so long. A LOT could have happened in 8 months. Luckily it doesn’t appear that he assaulted any other children during that time, but he certainly could have and so could any other sexual predators allowed to be left in similar situations and in close proximity to children.
A frightening phrase came up in a couple of the articles that I read for this story and it’s, “Passing the Trash.” Basically, this is how the education community refers to those teachers that have done things they want to “keep quiet” so they are not put in the system and are allowed to move on to teaching jobs in other districts or states. They “pass the trash.”
The incentive is, you really don’t want bad press,” said Drew Christian, an attorney familiar with the practice. “You don’t want anybody to find out a scandal has happened on your watch.
This is frightening. How can we trust that our schools are keeping our children safe from sexual predators? Well, as we’ve just learned, we can’t.
This is an ongoing story, and we will definitely keep you updated. In the meantime, watch the full report here:
Featured image via video screen capture