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Randy Cassingham

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bullet  The Opposite of Zero Tolerance
 

Updated December 2010,
February 2011
and March 2011


Yet another astounding story from the front lines -- our nation's schools.

From True's 28 November 2010 issue:

 

We Know What's Good For You (No. 7,639 In a Long Series)

With "zero tolerance" policies, schools are quick to call in police for even minor alleged infractions of their rules. Central High School in Muncie, Ind., went the other way: when a student came to the office to report she had been dragged into a school restroom and raped, school officials refused to call in the police -- not even the police detective at the school working security. Instead, the 16-year-old girl was told to write a report on the crime, and then sat for 2-1/2 hours waiting for a Youth Opportunity Center employee to come get her. The YOC worker wasn't informed of the nature of the call until she arrived; she took the girl to the hospital, and doctors there immediately called police. "There has to be some basis for which to notify the police," said school superintendent Eric King. "They are investigating to determine if there was an incident," hence the written report. A police investigator said the four-hour delay in getting detectives involved left "too big a chance of losing critical evidence." A prosecutor said he was "extremely uncomfortable" with the school trying to take on a criminal investigation by itself, and that the school had an "absolute duty under the law" to bring in the police. (RC/Muncie Star Press) ...They'll consider that request. Maybe.

There are some updates on the story. Police did find evidence of a crime, and (six days later) arrested the boy, who is being charged as an adult. The school told the boy that the girl had "changed her story" and he could go home! He did -- and took a shower and washed his clothes. "We lost any evidence that he had on him at that time," said Muncie Police Detective George Hopper. Of course, the boy "changed his story" himself when he talked with police, first denying everything, then later saying the sex was consensual. But he also admitted he had "crossed the line" with the girl, who resisted him. Police say when they talked to the girl, she didn't change her story at all. But yeah: no doubt she was embarrassed to have school officials interrogate her, and likely wasn't clear when answering the questions asked by self-appointed (and completely untrained, in a criminal investigation sense) school "investigators".

The police say flatly that school officials "have interfered with and delayed the investigation that is required by state law." Because of the delay in reporting the crime, other students used the restroom, trampling over any evidence there, too.

The Youth Opportunity Center is a "troubled children's center". The shocked caseworker took the girl to the hospital as soon as she discovered what was going on.

"I don't know that I can speak to the delay" in bringing in the police, said the school superintendent. "We are cooperating."

These are the people we're paying to educate (and, in loco parentis, protect) our kids. If this is an example of the kind of "professional" school administrators we have, we have too many administrators. I'm guessing we could hire at least two teachers for what it costs for this kind of administrator. I do know there are good administrators out there too, but I'm wondering if this is a major part of the educational problem in this country: too many chiefs, not enough "Indians" (teachers) who do the actual educational tasks.

I'm betting you have something to say about this story too, so comments are open below.





December 2010 Update

Lots of the commenters are wondering why criminal charges haven't been pursued against school officials. This morning, the Star Press is reporting that's in progress.

A grand jury was empaneled in early December to look into the case, and specifically "told they might be asked to determine whether state law was violated in the response by [school] officials", rather than look into the alleged rape itself.

The incident occurred November 9, so it took nearly a month to impanel a Grand Jury to look into what was immediately obvious to me and my readers.

Sources (all open in new tab/window): original story, Muncie Star Press update, WTHR-TV Indianapolis, December 4 Update





February 2011 Update

A Delaware County deputy prosecutor has issued his first comments after looking into the situation at Central High School. "And I didn't necessarily like what I saw," said Eric Hoffman, who is still trying to determine whether school officials should be indicted on criminal charges for their failure to report the rape on campus.

Hoffman reports discipline at the school is "lacking or completely non-existent." For example, he has seen "out-of-control and violent fights and students actually standing up and telling teachers to f--- off. What has significantly compounded this chaos is the unwritten policy or at least the desire by the administration to handle these matters in-house without the intervention and help from police officers," even those who are stationed at the school. He notes "arrests for delinquent or criminal activity occurring on campus are frowned upon, discouraged or prohibited by various administrators [in the entire district], particularly at Central High School."

School officials have even stopped officers from conducting alcohol tests on students they suspect are intoxicated on campus, which has helped create a "snowballing effect of completely out-of-control students and an oftentimes chaotic environment," Hoffman said.

The response by district officials is as lame as you might expect. "I don't know what he's responding to, so I can't comment," said Supt. Eric King, who also refused to say whether any administrator at the high school has faced internal discipline over failing to report the rape.

King's Assistant Supt., Tim Heller, seems a bit more on the ball. He has proposed new "security policies" to the school board, Hoffman says, which "makes it crystal clear that school administrators do not have the authority to direct a school security officer to make an arrest or, more importantly, to not make an arrest." That's a direct response to something that happened at Central High, when principal Chris Smith allegedly "interfered with an officer who tried to make an arrest and told the officer that he will decide who is arrested on school grounds," Hoffman said. "That is not the law and that will no longer be tolerated by law enforcement or the prosecutor's office." It's about time!

Hoffman said he will decide in March whether to present evidence to the Grand Jury about the school officials interference with the rape investigation. "The ultimate question will be whether there is sufficient evidence that school administrators violated Indiana criminal law, and if so, who specifically violated the law," he said.

Source: Muncie Star Press -- and kudos to them for staying on this story.




March 2011 Update

Central High Principal Christopher Smith, who was previously "reassigned" within the school district (note: not fired!), has finally been charged with a crime regarding this case.

"Any person who has reason to know that a child may be the victim of child abuse or neglect is required to immediately make a report to either the Department of Child Services or a local law enforcement agency," said the Delaware County Prosecutor's Office in announcing the criminal charge. "As principal, Mr. Smith was in charge of the building and the duty to comply with the law… was ultimately his, and only his, responsibility."

The charge: failure to immediately report child abuse or neglect, a misdemeanor. The most severe penalty available under the law: 180 days in the county jail.

(Source)

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158 Comments on This Entry

All comments in this blog are reviewed prior to being published. Spammers: don't waste your time. The posting criteria are simple: if a comment is worth visitors' time to read, it's approved. If not, it's not.


Posted by Mike, Ohio on December 3, 2010:

I've got experience working with victims of sexual assault, and this kind of behavior is inexcusable. Of course she "changed her story"; a traumatic event will scramble your brain and one of the first things to go is the ability to have a linear memory of the events that happened in the trauma. At that point, she needed medical and emotional support, let the experts deal with determining what really happened.

Everybody involved in that process should be fired at a minimum, and I don't know that a lawsuit wouldn't be justified in this case.

Posted by Kent, South Carolina on December 3, 2010:

More than ample evidence that "common sense" is an oxymoron; and the school administrator is just a regular moron.

Posted by Bonwell, Oregon on December 3, 2010:

That split second when the school made this girl think it might have been her fault is all it takes to make this unforgivable.

Posted by Alan, VA on December 3, 2010:

Thanks for getting this out there. I'm reposting it everywhere I can think of. Maybe twice in some places.

I really hope you're able to get further updates on whether or not the school "officials" are going to be charged with something like obstruction of justice. Or maybe accessories after the fact. Anything....

Posted by patti,madera,ca on December 3, 2010:

Why am I not shocked or appalled!?!

It's amazing how people almost don't see rape as a crime anymore, or try to make out the female victim as the aggressor or say that "she wanted it"!!

Rape is a crime of violence, not sex! It's about power, & those that allowed the "boy" to go home should be just as guilty as he.

It's not a wonder that so many rapes go unreported.

Sad that this is the way of the world now.

Working in law enforcement communications (aka: dispatcher), you would never even begin to understand how hard it is to get someone to report the crime & this girl wanted to!

Most want the guy punished, but are too afraid to make a stand.

Posted by Mike, Florida on December 3, 2010:

I have friends who are battling bullying in schools (one lost her son to bullycide). What is becoming pretty obvious to me is that a child in school is not given the same protection for the same crime as an adult in the workplace is given. Whether the victim is 6, 16 or 36, assault is assault. Rape is rape. Harassment is harassment. And I'm talking about COMPARABLE crimes, not the stupidity of zero tolerance where a young child is treated the same for a toy cannon or even a cap gun (do they still make those?) as for carrying a loaded revolver under the inane illogic of "a gun is a gun is a gun".

AFAIAC, the school officials should be charged with the same kind of criminal offenses (obstruction of justice, tampering with evidence, etc.) as supervisors in a workplace would be.

Posted by Don - Kanata, ON on December 3, 2010:

Should not the school officials be charged as "Accessories after the Fact".

Almost the same as aiding and abetting.

Posted by SG, Washington State on December 3, 2010:

This happened to my youngest (and Down Syndrome) daughter. It was an oral rape, which is rape all the same. When I INSISTED on a police report being made, the teachers said "you do what you have to do". The police took it so lightly that they did not see to it that she had a rape kit done, and I am sad to say I did not think of it until it was too late. Withing two weeks the school was asking "When are you going to get over this?" Answer: Never! Not happening!

Not the best time of our lives, and yes, the issue was eventually resolved and the young man received appropriate intervention. My daughter spent the next three years in therapy (courtesy of the state's crime victims fund; they DID take it seriously). Also, of course, I had to bring a lawsuit before anything was done, which I would have never done if they had just acted like real humans in the first place.

Posted by Elizabeth - Ohio on December 3, 2010:

This may be a stupid question, but is there any way the school (as a whole or just individuals involved) could be charged as an accessory after the fact for the rape, especially if the boy somehow gets away with the crime (like if the evidence is compromised to much to use thanks to the school's stupidity)?

Thank you for posting this, any updates are greatly appreciated, I've reposted this everywhere. All of the officials involved should be sanctioned and fired at the least and sent to retraining for further traumatizing the poor girl.

---

I'm unclear whether criminal charges would stick or not, but certainly a lawsuit would have an excellent chance of succeeding. -rc

Posted by Janene, Sydney Australia on December 3, 2010:

Why weren't the girl's parents called? If someone called me and said my daughter was saying someone had raped her, my second question would be "When did the police say they'd be there?" and, if they had not been called, I'd call them myself.

Wouldn't letting the boy go home and other people use the restroom count as "tampering with evidence" or something similar?

Posted by Nick in Canada on December 3, 2010:

Did I miss the part where the school officials get criminally charged for obstruction of justice? Surely, refusing (or even just omitting) to call the police when notified of a crime has to be a criminal offence. Refusing to help a victim get to a hospital doubly so.

I kinda like the UK version better. You can be charged with "perverting the cause of justice" which pretty much covers anything that interferes with an investigation or trial (e.g. lying to an officer or on the stand)....

Posted by Maven, Virginia on December 3, 2010:

Let me guess, the boy is either a talented Jock, comes from a well connected family, or wealthy. Betcha.

Posted by Linda CA on December 3, 2010:

I believe teachers and school administrators have a reporting duty to the authorities when someone under their care is injured or in danger. The entire school administration violated this obligation and should be held accountable. And they should pay for the psychological rehabilitation of the victim.

Posted by John, Nebraska on December 3, 2010:

Every sorry excuse for a human being involved in the decision not to call the police should be charged with obstruction of justice, interfering with a police investigation, and anything and everything else that may possibly apply, up to and including accessory after the fact, and aiding and abetting. I have 'zero tolerance' for oxygen bandits.

Posted by Jenny, Phoenix on December 3, 2010:

Teachers and administrators are bound by law to report any incident shared with them by a student. There is absolutely NO WAY this should have happened, and while I usually decry our lawsuit-happy American society, I would absolutely sue the district if this happened to my child. Horrific!

Posted by Virginia, Texas on December 3, 2010:

Our children are put into the care of schools for a certain amount of each week day. It is expected that they will be kept safe and unharmed during that time. This school has completely ignored that responsability and all officials should face consequences for their lack of care and protection for that girl. I can't imagine the grief the parents are going through let alone what that poor girl is facing in the days to come.

Posted by Dave, Mountain Iron, Minnesota on December 3, 2010:

It's a good thing she wasn't carrying an aspirin, a nail clipper, or some such item....she'd probably still be locked up in the YOC and the crime never would have been reported at all.

School officials are "mandated reporters" if they have even a suspicion that a violent crime has been committed, a fact which all involved appear to have conveniently forgotten. Each and every one of them should face criminal charges, and their credentials revoked by the state to insure that not one of them ever holds any position with another school.

Posted by Jerry, Texas on December 3, 2010:

I fully agree with John from Nebraska and would add something more: All involved school officials should be immediately fired and the state should revoke any and all teaching or administration licenses that they may hold. Crap like this is totally unacceptable.

Posted by Joel in Calgary on December 3, 2010:

The administrators definitely need to be brought up on charges for this. Their inaction is beyond inexcusable, it's criminally negligent in my opinion.

Posted by Alan, Wichita on December 3, 2010:

When I was in school (back in the stone age) if something like that had happened the boy would have welcomed the police because the other kids would have beaten him to a pulp. As for the administration, they should be fired and/or put in jail then blocked from ever working with children again. But then again I grew up when self control and taking responsibility for your actions was in fashion.

Posted by RG, Crystal River, FL on December 3, 2010:

This is not really an example of "The opposite of zero tolerance," but an example of what is currently going on in our schools, namely "zero thought," which applies both to this and to Zero Tolerance. Don't think, don't use common sense, just hide behind the rules and let others pay the consequences of your failure. After all, they're kids, they'll get over it. Right.

Posted by Tim in Canada on December 3, 2010:

Why are the police delaying laying charges against guilty school officials, if they have violated the law? Nothing gets the attention of an imbecile faster than being put into cuffs and led away.

Posted by Jimmimac, Oakley California on December 3, 2010:

I hope the parents file a lawsuit against the school and the perp's parents as well.

Posted by Jim, Texas on December 3, 2010:

Ever since I was a teacher (1949-1955) I have said, openly and frequently, that the one most incompetent group of people in the country is school administrators. It is proven at least one a week in the national news, but probably could be several times a day, if truth were known.

It would be interesting to know if this superintendent is a former coach.

By the way, school superintendents that I know about are paid, not twice, but five or more times as much as a teacher.

Posted by Andrew Melbourne, Australia on December 3, 2010:

How inept are your school administrators? Aren't they educators? Doesn't sound like it. Least our principals are those teachers who have excelled (hopefully) and moved into educational leadership (more than just being administrators). Perhaps you need to have a mandatory reporting scheme like we do here. Whilst not totally fool proof, educators and other mandated professions legally have to report such incidents.

---

Most, if not all, states do have such requirements. The whole point of this story is to show how some idiots don't follow professional, legal, and ethical guidelines, not to say "This is the way it always is." -rc

Posted by KT, Wisconsin on December 3, 2010:

This is absolutely disgusting and I was completely horrified when I read this story. Having been trained in psychology and social work, the re-traumatization and re-victimization that this girl may have experienced at the hands of inept school administrators is completely astounding. I hope that the family of this girl takes legal action against the school, if at the very least to change school policies and prevent such a horrible thing from happening to any other victim again.

Posted by Amy, Chicago on December 3, 2010:

Between moving and raising three children, I have experience with 4 private and 3 public schools, including one of each considered to be the among the best in the nation. While there was the occasional stupid teacher, most were hard-working, well-meaning, and bright. The administrators, on the other hand, were, across-the-board, stupid, unthinking, and often mean and spiteful. I was constantly surprised by their ineptitude.

Believe it or not, private schools were worse than public. Why? My conclusion was that public schools want parental involvement -- they rely on a partnership between parents and the schools. Private schools want the parents to pay, then stay away. Private schools are paid to be experts, and don't want interference.

A fascinating topic -- thanks for bringing it to us!

Posted by Brian, Scotts Valley, CA on December 4, 2010:

The poor girl should have drawn a gun when asked to write a report. I'll bet they would have called the police immediately.

Posted by Jim, California on December 4, 2010:

Government school administrators are no different than any other species of bureaucrat: lazy, indifferent, incapable of applying or unwilling to apply the simplest test of logic to any situation -- and protected by unions from any responsibility for the result of their actions or lack thereof. "Zero tolerance" is only a symptom. Eliminate federal involvement in education, minimize state involvement, and place primary control locally where it belongs -- and eliminate the unions (primarily NEA and AFT). Restore logic and accountability to education. Difficult, but not impossible.

Posted by David, Australia on December 4, 2010:

I'd agree with Tim in Canada. Surely the school officials can be charged with something? "Obstructing the course of justice" comes to mind. And surely the school should have a procedure to deal with incidents like this? It beggars belief. But things almost as bad as this have happened in Australia too, so don't think I'm pointing fingers at the USA. The whole world has gone mad, it seems.

One other thing.

"I don't know that I can speak to the delay" in bringing in the police, said the school superintendent.

Unless this is an American way of saying things, it does not make much sense to me. "...speak for the delay" maybe? Mind you, expecting this guy to make sense is maybe expecting a bit much, in view of his prior actions.

---

It's an American way of saying it. -rc

Posted by Jennifer, California on December 4, 2010:

I hope that any school officials who failed to notify A) law enforcement and B) the girl's parents get charged in this matter. I am a former rape victim that ended up pregnant myself, and a former Correctional Officer, and know that's aiding and abetting, tampering evidence and many more charges can be thought of later.

Yes with my rape it has lead to emotional, physical and psychological problems. I was not aware of it happening and my counselors said it's normal to block it from memory -- it's too traumatizing to relive.

I hope that this guy that raped the girl is tried as an adult and thrown the book as for the school officials the book needs to be thrown at them for aiding and abetting and tampering with evidence.

Posted by Dave UK on December 4, 2010:

I always look at these stories from a UK viewpoint here across the pond and I sincerely hope we don't ever get idiots like this running OUR schools, although there have been suggestions of some British teachers exceeding their authority. To have school "officials" run a "zero tolerance" regime for minor rule infractions and yet not intervene in a timely manner to allegations of a serious criminal case, thereby destroying evidence, is just totally unacceptable. If true, it sounds like the school and the staff that were involved should be prosecuted and/or sued. Disgusting.

Posted by Caroline, USA on December 4, 2010:

I really hope justice is served. This is beyond insane for the school to get away with this.

My heart goes out to that poor girl and her family.

Posted by bill - Minneapolis on December 4, 2010:

Wouldn't the administrator's actions constitute Obstruction of Justice or as an accomplice after the fact since they gave the boy the opportunity to dispose of evidence?

I don't believe that this was done by misguided attempts to handle it on their own. They didn't want a rape to be listed against their school and were active in covering it up.

Posted by Casey,Stoneham,Ma. on December 4, 2010:

I went to high school just north of Muncie. The idiots in charge were just that. It would not surprise me to find out that the reason/excuse for them not calling the cops was to save themselves the embarrassment of the news media finding out about a rape taking place at "their" school. Administrators have a way of automatically doing CYA work first, and never mind the student's feelings/medical condition. Just don't make the school/administrators look bad.

The superintendent at our school district was carl t. swift. I always contended that the "t" stood for "the".

Posted by Mike from Dallas on December 4, 2010:

I do know that (at least in certain states), the law MANDATES that people in authority (teachers, doctors, etc) report even suspicions of child abuse in the home. They can be criminally charged for failure to do so. Why would a state prosecute for failure to report only suspected abuse by parents, but not prosecute for failure to report an actual crime?

Of course, I'm making two assumptions; that all states have such mandatory reporting and, if not, this state is one that does. Just wondering. I'm seeing more and more that The Law Is The Law, well, except when it's not.

Posted by John Davis, Michigan on December 4, 2010:

I think the administrators, if not the entire school administration, (NOT the teachers but the managers who made the stupid decisions) should be charged with accessory after the fact, or aiding and abetting.

That way when the rapist goes to prison, they can join him in his cell and continue his education.

He should have a PHD by the time he "Graduates" from the state school of criminal knowledge.

Posted by Dave in Missouri on December 4, 2010:

If the school superintendent Eric King been assaulted by a group of boys who kicked and stomped him in a sensitive area, would he have to write a report on the "incident" and then have it investigated in house? I think the police would be on the scene in minutes. Of course, he'd just have to "get over it".

Posted by Penny. Waddington on December 4, 2010:

My son worked as a School Resource Officer for 7 years before going back on road patrol when New York State Police stopped participating in the SRO program. He investigated IMMEDIATELY any incident (bullying, sexual abuse, fighting, vandalism, etc.) reported to him, and the school administration not only did NOT hinder him in any way, they supported him completely.

It is obvious that there is a serious problem in this school system that places the students in jeopardy. And by the way, "security" was not his only duty there. He was able to positively influence all the students he had contact with. He attended nearly all of the after school activities (sports, proms, plays), usually on his own time. He (and other SROs), who were very highly trained for work in schools, exemplify "Community Policing" at its very best. The police officer working "security" in the school where this happened should be, at the very least, suspended, if not fired. He didn't do his job, either.

---

On what grounds? He was out doing his job, and the school refused to call him. He can't be everywhere at once, and the school officials had a duty to call him, but didn't. The school officials, not the officer at the school, failed in their duty. -rc

Posted by Don, Wenham, MA on December 4, 2010:

The school administrator is guilty of interfering with the investigation of a felony and should be so charged and prosecuted. I wonder what else is being covered up in this school system? The family has a real good case against the school and its administration. It is sad that many in our society overlook or ignore crimes so often.

Posted by Rich from Hudson, NH on December 4, 2010:

I'm with all the comments here: 1) criminal charges against those responsible for violating state law regarding notification, 2) I don't know what the age of consent is in Indiana, but if 16 is underage, then criminal charges of statutory rape against the perp, 3) civil lawsuit against the school system, 4) civil lawsuit against the parents of the perp, 5) create a tuition tax credit system (not vouchers) in Indiana (if it doesn't already exist) so that parents may vote with their pocketbook.

---

This isn't a statutory rape case, it's a forcible rape case. Huge difference. -rc

Posted by Jody, VA on December 4, 2010:

So what's the question? The Law is the Law and there should be NO question as to the procedure. Charge the School Officials (ALL involved), fire them, and charge the Boy with Rape and proceed accordingly. I cannot believe someone at this school did not know what to do. Obviously their education has been sadly neglected and/or forgotten as to exactly what to do. UNBELIEVABLE of such ignorance!!

Posted by Nancy in Pasadena Texas on December 4, 2010:

I raised my granddaughter, and by the time she graduated I think the school was ready to get rid of me. Apparently, administrators think they are investigators, and doctors, and many other roles they have no business getting into. I believe the parents should insist these people be arrested for not reporting a crime (a law here), impeding an investigation (for letting the boy go home), and sued for their role in this. My great grandchildren will be old enough for school soon, and I am afraid for them.

Posted by Jeff - WA on December 4, 2010:

As an "old" educator, I'm dismayed with "zero tolerance" because they don't mean it. If a kid brings a gun to school, he's not prosecuted and we hear "....you gotta understand, he's got it rough at home." Zero tolerance should MEAN zero tolerance - even for - sorry - the 1st grader who brings the toy gun to school. Otherwise don't pretend you have "zero tolerance." What they mean for the most part is "low tolerance except inspecial cases." In the rape case, the administrator should be prosecuted for interference in a police matter and then subjected to a civil suit by the girl and her parents. THEN he/she should be fired. Too much time and effort is spent in schools in the CYA mode.

---

If you truly feel a 1st grader with a toy gun should be treated the same as a teen who brings a real gun to school, I feel terribly sorry for your students. Really: what's wrong with THINKING and making the punishment fit the "crime"? If you truly can't make common sense judgment calls like that, you don't belong anywhere near children. -rc

Posted by Susan, Alta, CA on December 4, 2010:

The school officials should all be dismissed. Regardless of the result of the investigation, they failed in their duty to protect the girl, which - in most states? - they're required to do, by law. It's pretty straightforward.

Posted by Patrick, Madison, IN. on December 4, 2010:

I'm against Zero-tolerance in schools. Each incident should be treated as a seperate case by a trained professional. I know this costs $$ but for the welfare of the children, how much would you pay?

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The problem is, we are paying professional wages for these decisions, but aren't getting them. -rc

Posted by Dave, Minnesota on December 4, 2010:

How about some "Zero Tolerance" toward the school officials involved in this case?

Posted by Al in High RIver on December 4, 2010:

I cannot believe the stupidity and complete ignorance of the school! Do they not have kids of their own? If that was my child I would be banging on their doors and heads to find out where their brains were or lack of same. It just makes me sick that this goes on; a case of protecting their own you know whats! Fire every one of them, especially those who protested but sat back and let things slide by.

Posted by Lucy, Texas on December 4, 2010:

I have been reading "This Is True" for years and I have a Masters Degree in Education. After reading stories like this, I find myself wondering "Where should I send my resume?" I could do far better than these fools.

Posted by Gary in New York on December 4, 2010:

I'm surprised that the school didn't suspend the girl for having sex on school grounds or for leaving school property without permission.

I hope the school official who told the boy that he could go home is charged with obstruction.

Posted by Tom, Littleton, CO on December 4, 2010:

I cannot believe this! Even had a Police officer on duty in the School could not even call him! Are we not going back to the dark ages where "she asked for it"? The school are doing their own investigations before contacting the police! Over 2 hours before the police were contacted and then it was not the school. I am not sure but most states have a law stating that the Police are to be contacted if you know of a Felony has been committed. Bring a practice rifle to school and they are hot to call the police and throw you out of school.

I am not much for lawsuits but in this case I say one is warranted. Maybe it is time to ask the school board what kind of schools they are running. I wonder if they would tell a staff member "well we have to investigate this" before the police are called. The girl should have reached over the desk to grab the phone and dialed 911 herself! But they would have thrown her out for unauthorized use of school equipment.

Parents should instruct their children that if something like this happen to them go to the nearest phone and call the police themselves. Then report it to the school second and if the school has a problem with that too bad! Do not get me wrong on this I am in no way blaming her parents, they send her to school thinking she is safe and they will do the common sense thing.

---

Part of the reason I run these stories is to give parents something to talk about with their school-aged kids. This IS what's happening in real life, and kids need some guidance of what to do. Many have cell phones; calling the police themselves when they're the victim of a violent crime is what they're for. -rc

Posted by David, Georgia on December 4, 2010:

This child's parents need a really good civil attorney to sue the hell out of that whole group of people involved at the school. As a retired officer I say include the school security officer also in the suit. I would even report him to his department's IA team for dereliction of duty!!! Nobody in that school had ANY right to do anything BUT call the police on a reported crime. It's the police's job to decide if a crime was or wasn't committed, not the school's. As her dad, I might have even considered kicking someones butt also!

---

My reply to this comment already addresses the suggestion that the officer on duty at the school has any culpability in this case. -rc

Posted by Brendan, Illinois on December 4, 2010:

This is not an excuse.

The two most important things principals are evaluated on are; student test scores and the number of behavioral incidents at their school.

Test scores around the country are going up because 1-teaching to the test 2-dumbing down of the tests 3-cheating. Behavioral incidents I imagine are being reduced in a similar fashion.

Schools are not the only ones doing this. I remember hearing a story on NPR not long ago about police officers talking victims into reporting less serious crimes, or none at all, because they want their violent crime numbers reduced.

Posted by Richard from Hudson, NH on December 4, 2010:

I've had it about up to my brown eyeballs with the "for the children" argument, because usually when some group says something is for "the children" it is usually the children who get screwed [apparently sometimes literally.] I tell the gov't [and that includes the public schools] to stay out of my child's education and my and his life. I will take care of my child - you take care of yours.

Posted by Max Sedona, AZ on December 4, 2010:

These are the type of administrators that will spend all day trying to pick the fly s____ out of the pepper.

Posted by Ed - Shaftsbury VT on December 4, 2010:

In a number of states, particularly New York, teachers are "mandated reporters" for incidents and suspicions of criminality and/or abuse. Violations are subject to both criminal penalties through the justice system and licensing penalties through the state education department. School systems have a reporting chain and methodology with minimal discretion and extensive documentation (including dates & times).

I suspect, in this case, the girl was considered "bad" by the principal (with a 1950's mind set) and assumed she was either "asking for it" or changed her mind at the last minute. I further suspect he was too lazy or arrogant to fulfill the requirements, involve the cops, and work late.

First suspend his principal and teacher licenses, then indict him.

It's also interesting to note the caseworker, the lowest paid person in the chain, was the first to care about the girl and initiate proper actions.

Posted by Scott in San Jose, CA on December 5, 2010:

I had a strong reaction to Randy's musing that foolish administrators ("chiefs") in our school system "may be a major part of the educational problem in this country." I am a high school teacher, and the administrators I have worked under at three schools have ranged from great to incompetent. It has mostly been a benign incompetence, unlike the nitwits in this sordid story.

I was thinking about the way teachers, and, in particular, teachers' unions, have become such a villain in the political discussion about improving education. One of the reasons that teachers' unions have bargained strong job protections is the degree of incompetence in management that seems rampant in our field. Every profession must have its share of fools in management, so I was asking a colleague the other day if it were really possible that public education has a greater share of incompetent managers than other fields. We believe that the answer has to be "yes." This story from Indiana may be a case in point.

The unions' defense against the broadly awful track record of administrators has been to demand that it be very hard to release teachers who have permanent status -- even when their own colleagues might quietly concur that they ought to be fired. All the good teachers hate this, but the one thing we trust less than a one-size-fits-all employment policy is the site- and district-level administration. Before the days of collective bargaining, districts routinely paid women and minorities less than white and male teachers. Any white male who wanted promotion to the administration (with higher pay) routinely got it regardless of merit. This does not begin to address the untold sad and insulting individual situations. Unions have helped to change this, but along the way they have protected some nincompoops who ought not be in the classroom. Any of these "bad" teachers, of course, had to be granted permanent status by an administrator early in their career.

I don't know if Muncie teachers have a union, and I realize these comments are tangential to the bigger issues of compassion and justice in this story. I do think the inept administrators who denied this girl a just response to her assault represent the kind of poor management that teachers across the country frequently have to deal with. In California we receive training each year on our mandated reporting responsibility. I couldn't imagine this scenario unfolding with even the worst administrators I have personally worked for, and for that I am grateful on behalf of our students.

I hope it goes without saying that I have deepest sympathy for this young victim of rape and highest indignation at the misunderstanding of sexual violence that persists in our society.

Posted by Barbara, Purcellville, VA on December 5, 2010:

Having experienced a similar situation with my oldest daughter, I can say this may be a more common phenomenon than you would expect except in my daughter's case, she knew how administration would respond and the truth only came out many days later due to the concern of a friend. Next time I will file a police report myself instead of thinking that the administrators ultimately have the best interests of the child(ren) in mind.

---

I did worry that this is a more common situation than I had hoped, so can't say I'm surprised. -rc

Posted by Cheryl, Muncie, IN on December 5, 2010:

I'm appalled that this happened IN MY TOWN. Thank God my son doesn't go to this school - he goes to the other high school in our town.

If my child went to this school prior to this incident, he/she wouldn't be attending there anymore.

I've been following this story since day one, and it's not getting any better. Heels are being dragged, excuses are being made, and it's all because of the administrators who are afraid to lose their jobs because they screwed up. Well, I say, FACE IT - they DID screw up, and they ARE going to lose their jobs, period. There's no excuse for their behavior, and most definitely no excuse for not reporting the incident immediately to the police department.

This is a bad situation all the way around, not just for the girl, and the administrators - because there WILL be repercussions against the entire school system in Muncie because of the decisions of a few administrators. I foresee loss of federal funds for all of our schools here, which means my children will not get the education that they deserve. Why? Because some administrators decided that THEY were God and didn't bother considering how their decisions would impact our entire school system in Muncie.

Bravo, Central. Thanks for screwing up my kids' futures.

---

I hope you're right (that there WILL be repercussions and they WILL lose their jobs) and wrong (that there will be a loss of federal funds). I would hope what really comes out of this is a realization how important it is to have good admins, and that things will improve not just in Muncie, but in other districts as well. I know the odds, but I can dream, can't I? -rc

Posted by Ross, Brooklyn, NY on December 5, 2010:

The unfortunate girl should have told the school that the "boy" gave her a tylenol. Then the school would have called the police sooner.

Posted by Kristen (Muncie, Indiana) on December 5, 2010:

The school really messed up here. They should have taking what this girl said and CALLED THE COPS. In this situation it was manditory that they cops be informed. I can't believe the major delay in calling them in.

Thankfully my kids don't go to this school. Cause as a parent I would have been very angry with the school for such a delay.

Posted by eddie-syracuse on December 5, 2010:

Why do they lay off good teachers when all systems are top heavy with administrators, who probably aren't good teachers anyway and then are afraid of losing their jobs because they "screw up?"

Posted by Dave, Minnesota on December 5, 2010:

I suggest that all school officials involved in this fiasco be given a prison term of a year or so. In general population, after all of the other prisoners have been notified that they aided and abetted a sex offender who raped a minor.

Those who survive will most likely have learned their lesson by the time they are released.

Posted by loretta/ port st. lucie, fl. on December 5, 2010:

I don't blog. I am 66 yrs. old & I am appalled at the schools are run. This is just one of the worst examples i have read or listened to. Excuse my way of writing, but I am upset & frustrated by something that I feel I can do nothing about. So much of this world that we live is ccccrazy!!! I, at one time was attending school to become a teacher & changed my mind after doing part of the student teaching. I knew then that I could not work with "0" intolerance & lack of care for our young children. I went on to teach privately to students in small groups where I felt good about what it truly is to be a teacher.

Posted by Peter, Whittier CA on December 5, 2010:

I work for a local school district as a School Bus Driver. In California, because we deal with and work with children we are put into the position as "Mandatory Reporters".

If this girl was on my bus and told me she was raped in the school bathroom, I am required BY LAW to report the incident. Failure to do so could result in Termination and/or Prosecution.

The so-called School (ahem!) Administrators should be FIRED and PROSECUTED to the fullest extent of the law. Their actions (or inactions) resulted in an unforgivable delay that also compromised evidence and obstructed justice.

Posted by John Springdale, AR on December 6, 2010:

Seems to me you have answered your own question, Randy. You often ask why does the legislatures pass "zero tolerance" laws, and administrators like these are the reason. They have passed mandatory reporter laws for instances like this. To illustrate the point I will relay a part of a meeting one of my family members attended discussing (for teachers and other mandatory reporters) the law on situations like this.

The lawyer that was holding the meeting explained it like this in response to a question of whether one had the right to use judgment in reporting to police anything said about abuse:

If you hear two students talking and one student tells the other, "I was raped last night by so-and so." Even if you question him or her about it and find out that he or she was indicating they were "beaten bad" at a video game by the other person, you are still required to report it to the police. You can include the information about the remarks being about a video game and the police can make a determination to follow up or not, but you MUST report. Period. If the words used indicate the possibility of abuse, you MUST report it to law enforcement. Even if you KNOW that the whole thing is a mere poor word choice, you must report.

This is the legal advice of an attorney advising those covered by mandatory reporting laws. And the reasoning of the legislature in passing such a law to take away judgment of the teachers and administrators is incidents such as this one. Can there be any surprise that they have in turn gone down the road of adding weapon possession, etc to such laws? Same for school boards and their policies. To stop some administrator from deciding which such reports are valid or not. They don’t have the training or apparently the critical thinking skills to deal with such incidents.

Now, before you blast back about ZT being zero thinking, I agree with you in most cases. However, this very article indicates SOME ZT has to be present for there to be any sense of safety and justice in our schools. However I think mandatory reporting laws are the best place for these things. Not in school policies mandating specific punishments in advance. Simply stated, these laws allow administrators who are either too green or too judgment impaired to get the input of professional law enforcement before more damage can be done as in this case. The police after all are the ones we have entrusted and trained to make judgment calls about cases such as this.

Some examples of ZT I would find acceptable:

If a weapon (real not a facsimile) is found on a school campus, then law enforcement should be called. Note, no predisposition to what should be done with the person with the weapon, law enforcement and/or the local prosecutor should make that judgment.

If an accusation of rape or abuse is made by anyone, law enforcement should be called in. Yes, this will lead to false reports, but it is law enforcements duty to sift through these, and they are trained to do just that.

If someone is killed during an act of violence, law enforcement should take the person responsible into custody. Not saying take them into custody for the rest of their lives, but until they can determine whether the incident warrants further action. This goes back to something my father used to tell me before he taught me how to shoot a gun. "Son, if you fire this gun and hit another person, right, wrong or indifferent, they will put you in a cage, might be for a day, might be for the rest of your life, only pull the trigger if you are SURE it is necessary."

What do all these situations have in common? They are all serious issues, that need serious contemplation as to the correct response. Neutralizing the issue to bring more eyes and minds to bear is a good thing. However, incidents like these will bring out the "micro-managing" school boards and policy makers who will instead of mandating more eyes on the problem when it is serious, will mandate a specific outcome contrary to any sense of justice or what is right.

I think they really need to bring "critical thinking" classes back into the high schools.

---

I've never "asked why" legislators pass ZT laws; I've pointed out why. I've explained why they seem to be a good idea, and why they backfire (because of admins like this!) No one has ever suggested that ZT comes from mandatory reporting requirements -- they're not related, though the mentality does seem to be. Certainly a toy gun can be disruptive in a school environment, and I'm not advocating "zero punishment". Rather, I'm saying that a toy gun (or hand shaped like one) is not a gun, and the response must be different. Make the punishment fit the "crime". Real, loaded gun? By all means, expel! A crude drawing of one? Obviously not an expulsion case -- yet admins are literally saying "a gun is a gun is a gun" and expelling anyway, even when the kid is drawing what he was just shown in class in a history video about World War I. That's ludicrous. That's emotional abuse of children. And that's what schools are doing to our children. We are, however, certainly in agreement when it comes to your last sentence! -rc

Posted by Jennifer in Paris, France on December 6, 2010:

If I was that girl's mom you can bet I would've gone to the school and given them a piece of my mind! As a parent that just makes me so angry! These are the people who are supposed to educate & protect our children when we're not there. I'd put their sorry asses in jail & make sure they never work in any job that works with our youth again!

Posted by Mike from Dallas on December 6, 2010:

Eddie in Syracuse asked:
Why do they lay off good teachers when all systems are top heavy with administrators...?

And I wanted to answer, for the exact same reason that corporations extort pay cuts from their workers "to save the company from going under" and then give themselves bonuses for weathering the financial crisis.

But it's not so much an "answer" as an example of typical human thinking that creates such environments to begin with.

There was a Dilbert cartoon that states 90% of all business plans fail. Apparently success is not a goal. But those who oversee the most spectacular failures are hired for their 'expertise'".

Don't be surprised if the administrators in this case are NOT prosecuted, but actually promoted for their spectacular failure.

---

I'll be surprised if they're not prosecuted. I won't be surprised if charges are dropped on a technicality. -rc

Posted by Mike - Carson City, NV on December 6, 2010:

It should be obvious to anyone that reaction of the school officials was reasonable and justifiable if you realize what their goal was.

They wanted to cover their butts and keep their record clean, they just didn't want a violent crime reported in their school under their watch.

I'm sure the NEA will get involved, trying to keep these people in their jobs.

Posted by Josh Milwaukee, WI on December 6, 2010:

I feel certain that other fathers around the country are equally as infuriated by this display of idiocy as I am.

Perhaps to the point where perhaps a few thousand of us might readily invite the school officials who so bravely guarded their schools embarrassment into the very same bathroom, to experience this girl's treatment for themselves, firsthand.

Any takers, out there among the officials involved? Thanks so much, rc, for giving us this info and a venue to comment and vent our views.

Posted by Kristina, Michigan on December 6, 2010:

This is beyond crazy. I think the school needs to be cleaned out of their school officials and new school officials who really give a damn about the children in the school so that nothing remotely this bad ever happens again. It should be the job of the school officials for the safety of the students in their school and when they get told things like that they should worry about the students not their own egos. And the officials who pulled this crap should be behind bars. We are laying off excellent teachers for dumb ass reasons that has no bearing on the educational process but when we get people like this in the school force, they are allowed to stay in. We need to seriously take a step back and look at our school systems and ask what happened and how can we fix it.

Posted by Josh, Milwaukee WI on December 6, 2010:

I believe that the superintendent is not liable, since it was at the end of a meeting, at 8 p.m., when he first heard of it.

Principal Christopher Smith is completely at fault and could foreseeably hang from his nuts for this, and probably should.

Posted by Ken, Baytown Tx. on December 6, 2010:

What I see missing from this story are the names of the offending 'administrators and school officials'. We need their names, school and home addresses, and e-mail addresses. We need to be able to tell them 'your fired' to their faces. Letting them remain anonymous is a crime that should not be allowed to happen. Nothing gets their attention and changes bad or just plain stupid behavior like the light of day. These people are paid on my dime too, so it doesn't matter if this didn't occur here in Texas. My federal taxes go to help fund this stupid administrators life style and I want to tell them that they are fired. Tolerance has gone to far and we need to be more intolerant of this type of behavior if we really care about our country and our children.

---

I would have included other names had they been mentioned in my source stories. If you do see them face to face, I hope you'll say "you're fired", not "your fired". But this isn't about abusing the perpetrators, as guilty as they may be. It's about becoming aware of the mindsets to watch out for in your schools, so your kids (and your friends' kids) never have to go through such garbage. See more on this idea. -rc

Posted by Bonita in Claremont on December 6, 2010:

The school employees are mandated reporters. They are required to report any suspected abuse of a minor, regardless of whether they know for a fact if the incident happened. It is not their job to investigate. This is a licensing violation. I hope they are punished accordingly.

Posted by des - Oz on December 6, 2010:

Pretty much we're all agreed on the rampant stupidity of the administrators actions, and unified in our calls for their punishment...

A question - if they are sued, will the fines/damages/legal costs be covered by the school/ education department?, or will it come from the individual's pockets?

In my time I've seen a number of people hide their ineptitude behind the protection of their employer - sure they can lose their job eventually, but that's nothing compared to losing your house/retirement fund, etc.

Maybe too heavy handed, but this girl has lost a lot as well, and I'm quite sure the fools would find a new job (even if it's simply flipping burgers) quicker than this girl will recover - especially since it'll need to be relived over and over in the court testimonies and cross examinations.

---

Likely, the school -- a governmental institution -- will have to pay any lawsuit judgment. In other words, the taxpayers. That's why it's important for the taxpayers to pay attention to what's being done by their employees in their name, and to demand changes when things aren't being done to their satisfaction. -rc

Posted by Mark (Australia) on December 6, 2010:

This isn't a comment on the story but on the comments themselves.

Many here advocate confrontation, charging and in some cases verbal or physical violence towards *all* those involved in this terrible incident.

I find it incredibly ironic that people who choose to read and enjoy your publication have a zero tolerance approach and aren't interested in a proper investigation and determining *all* the facts before acting.

Certainly the people involved need to be investigated, but only those who perpetrated this miscarriage of justice should be punished.

It is quite frightening to see this, hang first, consider later attitude.

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For sure, which is part of why I wrote the next blog entry. -rc

Posted by George, Alexandria, VA on December 6, 2010:

My wife used to work in the school system. She says he was probably a Jock.

Posted by Ray in Colorado on December 6, 2010:

Bonita is absolutely correct. If a child at school uses certain key words or phrases that indicate that the child has been physically, sexually or emotionally abused, the teacher is required by law to pick up the nearest telephone and call a specific phone number to report the incident, as soon as is practical. "I've been raped" is certain to be one of those phrases. Every adult in that school that the girl talked to is in direct violation of the law.

Posted by Lisa, Trenton on December 7, 2010:

"I think they really need to bring "critical thinking" classes back into the high schools."

But who would you have teach it if the school is incompetent?

---

Not all teachers are incompetent. Not all admins are incompetent. "All" that needs to be done is to agree we'll get rid of the incompetents, and replace them with people who can do it. Simple, right? But that's exactly what we have not been able to do. We must get past that. -rc

Posted by Hugh -Kent,UK and Easton,PA on December 7, 2010:

I am involved with education as a School Governor in the UK (equiv to US school board.) I love the US but abhor the litigation mentality prevalent in the US.

Many of the comments refer to suing the school and/or the district as a result of this totally unacceptable incident.

Doing that would only punish the local taxpayers who pay for the schools/districts.

Any action, whether criminal or litigation, should be restricted to the individuals concerned and, that way, they would be held personally responsible for their actions (or inaction) and suffer the consequences without penalizing the school/district (read taxpayers).

Posted by Shawn, Colorado on December 7, 2010:

Regarding the question about who would pay if a suit were brought upon the administrators in question:

If the suit is brought against the school, the district pays the attorney fees. I believe that includes the case where the suit is against the school with the individuals as responding parties as well.

If, however, the suit is brought against the individuals, the individual is liable for the costs. Likely, the individual's insurance and/or union will cover these costs. If not, the individual is most likely going to have to cover all the costs.

---

Who the suit is filed against isn't the last word. The district or union could agree (or their employment contract could state) that because the liability was incurred during the performance of their job, they're covered by the district, union, and/or their insurance carriers. Or the court could rule that is the case, or.... No matter what happens, you can be sure there will be impact on the taxpayers. -rc

Posted by Mike from Dallas on December 7, 2010:

Forgive me for being cynical, but with 4 kids, I've had many incidents of confronting the schools. In one situation, the principal overstepped her authority and I took it directly to the Superintendent. His response was that he always backs his principals. Very noble IF there is thinking involved, but when it's mindless choice over the parent, it's nothing more than mechanical policy. Fortunately, school elections were coming up in a few months, in a small town where we had much family and friends. Essentially, the Superintendent was put out on his ear. Afterward in discussion, I mentioned that he should have been more mindful of the parents and this was the result. He insisted that the election was in no way relevant to his actions.

Never underestimate the capacity for self-delusion. Hit them between the eyes with a 2x4, and they'll insist that it was just a passing breeze.

Posted by Rohin, New Zealand on December 7, 2010:

"From Hugh...
Many of the comments refer to suing the school and/or the district as a result of this totally unacceptable incident. Doing that would only punish the local taxpayers who pay for the schools/districts...."

Except that suing the school or district incentivises the school not to hire people who cannot think about the consequences of their action. If the school never takes any negative consequence, how will they ever learn? Schools have already shown that they are slow to change, punishing them gives them impetus to do so before a different incident happens. (It won't be an identical incident, since they've experience in this area now.)

Posted by John @ Palmer, PA on December 7, 2010:

I taught for 28 years. For 10 of the last twelve I was president of a large (650+ members) teachers association (union). I was in regular contact with school administrators who seemed to confirm my belief that of all the paid jobs in the world, school administration is the most poorly performed. If "professional" means you get paid, and if professional responsibility is to earn what you get paid, school administrators rarely meet their responsibility.

Posted by Sandy- New York on December 9, 2010:

I retired from teaching for 20 years -- there are just basic requirements for licensing administrators in school districts that I've known. They are chosen by either the school board or the superintendent of schools, depending upon their level of responsibility.

In the main, I found that most were well-meaning people who did the best they were able. Politics and standing in a community seem to make a great deal of difference to them. I think that in a case such as this where the administrators were criminally negligent, making the individual administrator responsible for their own attorney's fees, court costs, and fines would help them be more alert to the consequences of their actions.

Under the terms of the NEA professional insurance, this is the situation for teachers. We are careful to be aware of our legal responsibilities. Administrators often receive their insurance free from the school district.

The actions of these administrators was unconscionable, as are the actions of those who are careless about the way they enforce zero tolerance laws.

Posted by Fighter, Boston, MA on December 10, 2010:

I really hope the young woman involved in this will go out and take self-defense lessons. Fewer rapists would succeed if women across the board knew how to fight back effectively. None of this slap & scratch nonsense, dislocate a kneecap, break a nose, give the dude a concussion if need be. No means no; we just need the skill to enforce it against attackers.

Posted by carol, southern NJ on December 10, 2010:

These people can REPRODUCE and VOTE??? Such stupidity amazes me, tho I thought I couldn't be so amazed anymore. All I can say is I hope this young girl gets the help she so needs to deal with the school representatives' collective ignorance, and the idiots in the school are made to pay for it, lose their licenses, and pensions. And perhaps be jailed where they might experience the helplessness of rape and not being believed when they report it.

Posted by Robert in Johnson Lake, NE on December 10, 2010:

Kinda of the note but one thing I find odd. All the instances we see of "zero tolerance" reports and not one person thinks to call the police?

Kinda reminds me of when I was young and in school. The teachers noticed that I had a bruise. When asked I told them, honestly, that the bruise came from bullies. (My father being one of the gentlest people you will ever have the pleasure of meeting.)

But instead of talking to the children of PROMINENT citizens the school wastes even more energy and calls social services. Much easier to go after a poor hard working dad than the spoiled rich kid.

I agree with one of the earlier comments. I'll bet you dollars to pesos that the boy's parents were somehow socially connected enough that the administrators were more worried about reprisals from his parents than seeing justice done. Sad days we live in.

Posted by Trish; Victoria, BC, Canada on December 11, 2010:

I completely agree, that boy's parents are socially connected and it's their influence that almost got this incident swept under the rug. I also believe that's why it took almost a month for the grand jury to be convened. The DA's office finally buckled under public anger and got the ball rolling. Can you just hear those parents railing at their attorney to get this case tossed out? As for the perp: I can see him as a self-centered, well off jock sashaying his way through life thinking he can do what he wants when he wants and no one will ever stop him. The 'court of public opinion' thinks differently and I do hope the court of law feels the same way.

Posted by Sylvia in Perth, AU on December 11, 2010:

These are the people we leave our children with to guide and teach how to be productive and responsible citizens.

...it boggles the mind.

Posted by Buzzkill, CA on December 11, 2010:

First, the school's failure to proceed appropriately on a matter of RAPE is unconscionable and unacceptable; the staff involved in the process of decisions should be banned from the fields of teaching and school administration, and imprisoned for no less than ten years.

This is a clear indication of what we have for a school system: little more than juvenile prison camps, where nobody is truly safe, and the bad only get worse. Until this trend is reversed - until the small and weak are able to attend school without feeling afraid, until schools prepare the upcoming generations to enter and sustain a civilized society - America is going to continue down this path to ignominy.

Posted by James, New Lexington Oh. on December 11, 2010:

I think this is a case of THE STUPIDS. The school is liable for the safety of each and every child and adult. I think the school should be charged for not letting the cops do the investigating in this case from the time it was reported and WHY did the piss poor cop that was there not do any thing after all is a police detective at the school working security. FOR WHAT. NOT to sit on HIS ASS and do nothing he need to be striped of his job.

---

And again, cops don't have superpower ESP that enables them to know what's going on everywhere, he needs to be called or otherwise alerted to what the girl said. I don't see that he did anything wrong whatever. The people who were told and kept the information to themselves are the guilty ones here. -rc

Posted by Oody, Canada on December 11, 2010:

As an educator in Canada I can still be thankful that things are slightly better here than in the US. I am concerned, however, that we will be following in your footsteps before too long. We always do, it seems.

I can say that my school district has mandatory review of reporting for abuse (all kinds) at the start of each school year. In fact, I was able to take a full day, with pay, to learn our policies including legal duty to report, nuances in cases where students are close in age, and the role of social workers. At least I feel I know what to do.

In the end, I feel that obstruction of justice charges are appropriate as well as professional discipline for those involved including removal from the profession. The loss of pay and benefits will be a lifetime reminder of their choices.

Teaching is more than passing on a subject, it is the creation of fully realized and developed people. This needs to occur in schools that are safe. Nothing more and nothing less.

School administration at this school should not be entrusted with these duties.

Posted by Mike, Florida on December 11, 2010:

Next time you do an update you may want to highlight that the police detective at the school WAS NOT NOTIFIED OF THE CRIME. From what you've said here, there's no telling when he first learned of it -- it might have been AFTER the arrival of the officers dispatched when the YOC finally called the police. I know you have it up there in plain English, but I learned a long time ago (and I'm sure you have, too) that the presence of a fact in plain English, right there in black and white, is no guarantee that it'll be read & comprehended. Seems that there have been a number of posts (at least partially) about the officer at the school who, as you have repeatedly said, DID NOT KNOW ABOUT THE CRIME BECAUSE NOBODY TOLD HIM.

---

Yep, and I've deleted about half of them, too. Clearly, people just want to jump on it without actually reading what has been said already. -rc

Posted by Mike from Dallas on December 11, 2010:

I think (and I'm not certain) that the prevailing attitude here is that the local cop may not have been aware of the crime when it took place, but he must have had his head buried in the sand afterward to not even be aware that something criminal had taken place. IF that were the case, then he would be just as complicit. Of course, it IS possible that the school administration kept it SO quiet that the local cop wouldn't have known that anything was amiss. A little strange, though, since his very presence is to be more than just a Badge on Premise.

A prison warden doesn't necessarily know when a prisoner is escaping in the middle of the night, but that doesn't exonerate him from catching a whole lot of flack over it.

---

The entire premise of the story is that school officials kept the crime from the police. If the on-campus cop was notified, that would have been notification of the police! And THEY DIDN'T DO THAT. I can't imagine him not being furious when he found out. -rc

Posted by Allister, Brisbane (Aus) on December 12, 2010:

"There has to be some basis for which to notify the police,"

LOL. Surely 'when a crime has been committed' is a good start.

Posted by Robert in Missouri on December 12, 2010:

I hope they give the officials in that school the boot. As far as I am concerned, they shouldn't be working with children.

Posted by Cathy in Texas on December 12, 2010:

What kind of schools do we have that kids are getting raped in school? It's mind boggling that this kind of thing is allowed to happen. And don't tell me that it wasn't "allowed", but it happened anyway. The school had an atmosphere already in place, or this wouldn't have happened.

No wonder I homeschool.

Posted by Peter, NJ on December 12, 2010:

I taught HS for nearly 30 years. My biggest complaint is that students who commit a crime, such as assault, are treated by a different set of rules than the adults in society. A fight in school, even with injuries, usually gets a 10 day vacation. 30 minutes after school, that same action in the convenience store would be assault and battery with a court date and possible jail time. How do we prepare kids for a responsible life in our society when we have a different set of rules for the first 18 years? Yep, schools are broken, but it is not the teachers or the unions. Look first to the people in charge.

Posted by Bill - Huntsville, Texas on December 12, 2010:

Back in 1978 I told my sister-in-law to drop out of school in Fort Worth because of the raping of TEACHERS daily!

Things haven't gotten any different.

The only way to stop this behavior is immediate corporal punishment for petty crimes. The use of a paddle on the buttocks to get the attention of those who are prone to violence is a well proven concept. Texas law DEFINITELY supports this action and the Yankee Communist parents who object can LEAVE Texas!

Posted by Jan, California on December 14, 2010:

It has been suggested that if the young woman had know self defense she might have been able to stop the attack. Maybe yes. But then it is quite possible that she would have been charged with assault and the legal system would have continued to re-traumatize and re-victimize her for defending herself. I was the victim of spousal abuse and defended myself. In the course of defending myself I caused injury to my attacker. The 911 call that sent the police to my house told them I was being beaten up but it did not matter. I got charged with FELONY spousal abuse because he got hurt when I defended myself. I have been required to hire a criminal defense attorney because I truly believed my attacker who is twice my size was going to kill me and fought back. No one in the system cares that I was defending myself. In my opinion the young lady would be worse off if she had defended herself as the legal system does not seem to take into consideration.

Posted by Ann, Northern Virginia on December 14, 2010:

I just got done reading allllll these comments over the last few days, and I must say it was Oody from Canada, near the very end, who breezed in like a breath of fresh air over everyone else. Calm, reasoned, reasonable, speaking from true long-term classroom experience, understanding and sympathetic without being hysterical or reactionary, with an appropriate response for the offending parties and an appropriate tack for seeking a long-term solution. And decent grammar, spelling and punctuation - I'm in heaven! A very "yin" experience reading her(?) note - gentle yet powerful. Thanks!

---

The shrill comments get tiresome, yes, but they're certainly understandable. But yes, there have been some very thoughtful, interesting points of view expressed by teachers here, among others. -rc

Posted by Cary from Iowa on December 14, 2010:

Hey Bill from Huntsville. Not all of us Yankees are opposed to corporal punishment. I say let the punishment fit the crime, whether it be an adult or snot-nosed kid. Teach them while they are still in school. Minors do a lot crimes simply because they think that they won't be punished.

Posted by Robert in Missouri on December 15, 2010:

Roger that. There were a number of kids I would have loved to see a paddle applied to their backsides when I was in junior high and high school.

Posted by Dave Minnesota on December 15, 2010:

When I was in junior high school (in Minnesota), corporal punishment was still technically around, though I do not recall ever hearing of anyone receiving it. But let's be fair, would a few whacks on the backside be appropriate punishment for a rapist? That is, after all, what the original story was about.

Posted by Oody, Canada on December 15, 2010:

Hi Ann,

In all honesty, I am no longer a classroom teacher, I am still a teacher but now I assist classroom teachers in integrating persons with special needs in the regular classroom. I work with 3 schools in a public school system.

And, I am a "he".

Regarding this case, all that remains to be seen is the process of justice. Due process for all parties must be allowed without hysteria or panic. That said, however, the parallel process of professional discipline should be swift and, as I previously expressed, result with removal from the profession of those responsible. They did not use sound judgement (as people and as professional educators).

I just hope discipline is quickly done. The school community needs to see these people removed in order to create a sense of safety and start the healing process required by the whole school community.

Posted by Mike from Dallas on December 15, 2010:

Responding to the last few posts advocating informed, rational response to the issue, I have to agree. The point of the story in True was not to involve the national (international?) public in the disposition of this case (that's already happened through the news reports), but to bring attention to the issue that it DOES happen. Anywhere. And possibly to YOUR school district. Keep vigilance at home, too, lest it happen to your kids.

What worries me is that it continues to happen in so many degrees. The reason goes beyond local apathy, but that the school board routinely ignores the parents that do get involved. Even in local bond issues, the school board takes a paternalistic position that parents are incapable of comprehending the complexities of financing and that the board will rescue us dumb parents from ourselves. Teachers routinely undermine the values that parents have given to their children. Children are the target of school penalties for parents that refuse to follow the herd.

School boards are incredible at rationalizing their incompetence and, sadly, I agree with Randy that those involved in this atrocity will ultimately skate free of responsibility. Somehow it will come back to the fault of the parents (of the victim, no less) in spite of the administrators' best efforts to prevent it. Watch how this case turns out, and then ask, "Can it happen in MY school?" It already does. This is true.

Posted by Dave, Minnesota on December 15, 2010:

Do remember the words of the immortal Mark Twain: "God created the universe in seven days. On the 8th day, he made School Boards."

Posted by Linda, Chapel Hill, NC on December 28, 2010:

Another example of zero tolerance that will make your blood boil. A good student athletic has been charged with possession of a deadly weapon for accidentally taking her fathers lunch bag to school. It happened to include a 3 inch paring knife. She had no idea it was there until the teachers did a random search of a number of students, looking for drugs. They found the knife, suspended her for the rest of her Senior year and pressed charges. Supposedly the principal has options. Here is the link to the story as shown on our local TV station today.

---

A classic case type -- it has happened many, many times before. When will it stop? Only when enough people stand up to the schools. -rc

Posted by Robert in Missouri on December 29, 2010:

That's totally outrageous. He overreacted. I hope they take that principal and the school district to court and win. I also hope she can find another school.

Posted by Vicki-Melbourne, Australia on January 11, 2011:

Would this kind of actions by school administrators constitute obstruction of justice in the USA?

---

I'm guessing not, but there are "duty to report" laws in most states for school officials. -rc

Posted by James, Ill. on February 7, 2011:

Indiana does have "duty to report" laws. I'd like to see the superintendent and principal involved spend a little time behind bars. Being a parent and grandparent, I would like my grandchildren to feel safe when they're in school.

Posted by Holly, Colorado on February 7, 2011:

This is very very typical of Indiana schools. Speaking as a product of those pathetic "rules" I am in no way surprised to read this story from Indiana. The entire state needs an overhaul in the schools. The people that prohibited this teen from calling the police and did not call for her have broken the law. They should definitely pay for it. Job loss, jail time, whatever.

Posted by Jay, New Jersey on February 7, 2011:

This incident happened in a school for troubled kids...meaning, the kids who are there aren't among the most well behaved in the district. I am in NO WAY excusing the conduct of the officials in this case, but on the grounds of the other claims, telling off teachers, fighting, etc, it seems that keeping the police from arresting students might be in the students' best interests...having a record or becoming a drop out won't serve them in life, but if they can get these kids to have an education, maybe they'll end up better off. Likely? Probably not. But maybe for a small fraction of these kids it will be true. Not every kid in that school is going to be a total waste of life.

That said, of course, the officials in the school certainly need to have the ability to distinguish between a serious incident that needs to be reported (rape, hello!) and a somewhat run-of-the-mill incident like a fight or swearing at a teacher.

I realize that I may be somewhat pollyannaish in my assessment...it could simply be self interest, that the officials are trying to hide the fact that they have no control over the student body and are trying to protect their own hides by not reporting incidents. While this is more likely the case, I'd hope that the students' best interests are what the officials have in mind.

---

One would hope! I had not heard any suggestion before that Muncie Central High School, which is part of the regular municipal school district, is particularly populated by "troubled kids", and don't find (after a brief search) any references to that. Do you have one?

The Public School Review web site reports that the district spends $16,121/yr/student vs $10,739 statewide. On the other hand, the percentage of kids in the district who are eligible for a free lunch is 36%, vs 24% statewide, but that may say more about the economy in Muncie than it does any particular school in the district. -rc

Posted by Brian, Canada on February 7, 2011:

Hey??? What about the girl, who was the first victim in the story... Of course the kid should be prosecuted. And so should the principal was aiding the kid, seriously interfering in the investigation and allowing the kid to go home. Isn't that just as bad as helping the kid rape the girl?

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My understanding of being an accessory to a crime is the law does consider it as bad as committing the crime, yes. -rc

Posted by Joe, Houston, TX on February 7, 2011:

I taught for a while in Flint, MI. I was assaulted, my property was stolen, Laser pointers shined in my eyes, and students were flagrantly using drugs and alcohol. Once a parole officer in plainclothes came into my 6th grade classroom looking for a student, and half the class tried to hide behind their books. I suddenly realized that not only did they know who he was, but evidently half the class had a professional relationship with him. It suddenly became clear that I wasn't teaching innocent 11-year-olds, but a pack of active criminals. I asked the school police liaison officer if a third of the students in the school had active criminal records, and he admitted it was closer to half. Because of privacy laws, and courts shielding the records of juveniles, as their teacher I was not allowed to know which students, or how many of them were in the juvenile court system. Unfortunately, most new teachers are put in the worst behaved classes, with the largest proportion of criminals.

Posted by Elena, UK on February 7, 2011:

Not calling the police in a case of an alleged serious crime, just so the perp doesn't get a criminal record...how's that helping anyone?!? What about helping the victim? Maybe it is this lenient approach that's led to this "friendly" and very "academic" ambiance in the first place. Anyway, i think that under no circumstances should anyone use individual injustice in order to serve what they perceive as a higher purpose.

Posted by Robert in Missouri on February 7, 2011:

@Joe in Houston:

The thing that really gets me about that practice is that is a very good way to break a teacher. On the other hand, there were a couple of teachers and school counselors I had as a rugger who literally were begging to get their behinds handed to them. It wouldn't surprise me if they assigned particular teachers to particular classrooms because they knew they'd end up leaving before their probation was up.

Posted by Jou, Ca. on February 8, 2011:

"Aiding and Abetting after the fact!"

Sounds good to me. I'm pretty sure it's illegal, EVEN in Indiana.

Posted by Dale- Arizona on February 8, 2011:

I make absolutely no excuse for the school personal.

On a related note about today's permissiveness;

Let's see; the school board isn't allowed to use a paddle board. Parents aren't allowed to spank their children. Give me some time here, I'm trying to think of what is wrong with today's youth that would lead up such violations.

---

When I was in school, the staff was able to maintain excellent discipline without beating children. I'm not sure when that ability was lost. -rc

Posted by Hugh -Kent,UK and Easton,PA on February 8, 2011:

Although the education systems in the UK and USA are different one thing that seems to be common to both is a schools ability to interpret the law to ensure that the school or its staff/administrators are never shown in a possible bad light.

I recall some years ago whilst there was an inter-school feud in progress and at one stage weapons were being used (knives and air-guns). The driver of one school bus was told that one of the students on his bus had a knife in his bag so, instead of dropping the students outside the school as usual, he drove in up to the school building entrance and asked a member of staff to search the boy's bag.

The staff member told him they were not allowed to do that, so the driver said "call the police then".

He was then told that police were not allowed to be seen entering the school premises as it may reflect on the image of the school!

At this point, the driver disembarked his passengers and left the school premises in disgust and bewilderment.

Posted by Feryl in Chocowinity, NC on February 8, 2011:

One sad fact, often overlooked, is that the school apparently "taught" the boy that this was ok, when they let him and other schoolmates commit crimes without consequences. I refer to the quote about lack of discipline in the classes. If unacceptable behavior was properly handled early, it might not escalate to the point of rape. Yes, I know music and entertainment help create these attitudes. The school system has now helped create a criminal who must be kept away from society instead of a contributing member of society. We all have the potential to contribute or destroy, and the schools must help us learn how to be contributors.

Posted by Mary, Austin, Texas on February 8, 2011:

What this school has been doing is criminal. They have been harboring criminals, I thought that was a felony as well as interfering with an investigation (not letting officers investigate crimes on school grounds). These adults need to be punished as well as the little thugs that are committing the crimes. I can't believe they are not protecting the victims. The DA should drag the top officials in and charge them.

Posted by Richard, Sun Valley, NV on February 8, 2011:

When I was in grade school, school personnel did not have to use paddles on children either, because being sent to the principal's office was generally sufficient. It worked because children were taught to respect authority, something not done today.

Posted by Robert in Missouri on February 10, 2011:

@Richard in Sun Valley:

Roger that. If that authority is exercised intelligently, you can cut down on a lot of problems in a school. Unfortunately, there are too many administrators around who simply enforce rules without thinking.

Posted by William, Toledo, OH on February 11, 2011:

I have to wonder about the parents of the children in this school district. The school board meetings alone would not have been convened in a large enough facility to hold the parents who should have been bringing up these issues. It seems to me that not only is the school administration apathetic, but the whole town seems to be. As it goes, though, we reap what we sow.

Posted by Bob in NJ on February 11, 2011:

"Who the suit is filed against isn't the last word. The district or union could agree (or their employment contract could state) that because the liability was incurred during the performance of their job, they're covered by the district, union, and/or their insurance carriers. Or the court could rule that is the case, or.... No matter what happens, you can be sure there will be impact on the taxpayers. -rc"

Randy, respectfully I must disagree. Because the performance of their jobs probably requires (depends on state) prompt reporting of crimes, which they did not do, they were derelict in performing their jobs. Thus I would argue that they were not performing their jobs and should not be protected by such clauses. *G* At least that's what I would argue to the courts if this came up in my town.

---

"Arguments" won't mean a whole lot if there's an ironclad indemnification clause in their employment contract, and I'd be surprised if the union didn't get one in there over the years. -rc

Posted by MikeZ, Pennsylvania on February 11, 2011:

It's not that there are "too many" chiefs -- just too many incompetent chiefs who are simply not fit for their positions. What's worse, it's likely that their incompetence extends beyond discipline; they're probably not very good educators, either. Which may be one of the reasons America's children aren't getting the type of education they deserve.

So why is it that we feel like we're tilting at windmills?

Unfortunately, many boards of education are so mired in issues of budgets and funding that they're oblivious to the failure of school administrators and teachers to perform their jobs adequately. And all too often, they fail to do anything about it. Just look at this story.

It shouldn't take incidents like this to wake us up. But sadly, it sometimes does take lawsuits to force "the system" to rid itself of incompetent, complacent officials who can't cut it.

The unions can help, too. Instead of devoting all their energies to protecting unfit members through lifetime tenure and other counterproductive approaches, they should partner with school boards and parents to develop and implement the innovative steps needed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

The day this story hit the news, the people of Muncie should have reacted like the people of Egypt: rise up and make noise -- demand immediate, substantive action and settle for nothing less. The folks in Delaware County may finally receive a small measure of justice, but it should never have unfolded this way or taken so long.

We spend too much time and energy pointing fingers and too little time finding constructive, innovative solutions. We can and should do better. Now. It's up to us to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Posted by Christi, North Adams MA on February 12, 2011:

What saddens me, over and above the stupidity of the school administration, is that I thought this was in Indiana -- before I read "Muncie." Why? Because, several years ago, my granddaughter entered kindergarten reading at the 3rd grade level and the only thing the principal could come up with was to put her in 3rd grade -- at age 5! Furthermore, he made it clear that there was no way my daughter could possibly know as much about teaching as he, despite her 10 years experience.

Posted by Kim, Japan on February 12, 2011:

Several people have commented on the competence or lack thereof of school administrators.

All of my life, my experience has been "those who cannot teach, become administrators." I was a square peg kid they tried to shove through the round hole, had a rough time socializing and coping, etc. I had a few bad teachers and some absolutely wonderful ones -- and nearly universally crummy administrators who seemed to wreak more havoc than good.

My mother, in particular, hated some of the ones I had in elementary and junior high. She regarded them as idiots, which of course destroyed any respect for their authority I might have had.

In my first high school, I met the only competent administrators I ever saw, and they seemed hamstrung by dumb policies that were mainly in place to deal with their less competent fellows. In my second high school (amazingly, the one with the higher budget), the competence level went back to what I had experienced earlier in life. By then, I had acclimated well enough and was able to mostly dodge their interference -- thank heavens!

Several years ago, my husband and I moved to Asia, and while in China we worked as teachers. To our surprise (and chagrin) we discovered that school administrators in other parts of the world (not just Chinese ones) ...well... some of them aren't any better than American ones. Apparently it really is the case that those who cannot teach go get a desk job. Or maybe the politics that come with the job eat their brains. I don't know.

Having been on both sides now, I have to say I really feel sorry for a lot of teachers and students out there, and think there needs to be tougher policies on employing administrators and less pressure on teachers. I'm sure a lot of schools around the world (!) lose good teachers because of bad administration. What a shame!

And for those poor competent administrators, I salute you. Stick it out! Hang in there with those good teachers, you poor, poor people.

Posted by Rick in California on February 12, 2011:

While this does not seem to be the norm, these administrators don't seem to understand the nature of their responsibilities or the legal and social consequences of their obvious poor judgement and behavior.

What bothers me more than the time and investigations used to even support so-called allegations od these incidents, is why the school board has taken no actions with the school officials who created this terrible situation. There must be some real pull againdst the school board by organized groups (unions?) to protect these administrators from being fired or suspended without pay until the school environment has been repaired.

I always thought it was about the kids having a safe and productive environment to learn in. Apparently that no longer seems to apply.

Posted by Nick Ohio on February 12, 2011:

And then the middle school boy who is suspended for ten days for using his prescription inhaler during an asthma attack to save his life. WAY too many chiefs. You don't see many administrative cuts when school levies are not passed.

Posted by John, Lexington SC on February 12, 2011:

This comment is from a retired police officer. In my opinion, this is a clear cut case of obstruction of justice, tampering with evidence (by failing to preserve it), and willful neglect of the victim and her needs.

Jail the administrators in the adjacent cell with the perpetrator. It will cost less to jail the idiot administrator than to pay him (or her, as the case may be) a salary for doing NOTHING. Let them make license plates like they used to do in my state. Hard labor of some kind is called for for the perpetrator and the administrator(s).

It's unfortunately not shocking this is happening in our country, considering the way things seem to be headed. It's truly appalling!

Posted by ANNETTE, AUSTIN TX on February 12, 2011:

I was a School Board member several years ago. In our world, there were rules in place, instituted by the board. The school staff, whether they were administration, teachers or lunch room ladies, had a code of conduct. There was an understanding that when children were at school, or school activities of any kind, the school was responsible for student safety, student behaviour and overall consideration of what was happening. I feel so very sorry for the students who are put in such a frightening atmosphere as described by the district attorney. And by the way, not keeping kids safe would be grounds for immediate dismissal, no question.

Posted by Robert in Missouri on February 12, 2011:

@Christina in North Adams, MA:

I've seen a couple of teachers embarrassed in class at schools I've attended in my time as a student, usually by kids whose parents or other relatives who had specialized knowledge (And, yes, I've corrected teachers once or twice, but never in class). There were teachers who have (believe it or not) taken it in good humor; there were a couple of teachers who attempted to either go to the parents or send them to a school counselor over being humiliated in class by those children. In the latter two cases, the incidents usually stopped after being chewed out by their department heads; one teacher I had ended up getting reamed out for her vanity and her stupidity by both parents and the principal for sending a kid to a school counselor over an incident which turned out to be laughable. Incidentally, said teacher left after her contract expired.

Posted by Sheila, Calgary, Canada on February 12, 2011:

@Kim about people who can't teach become administrators.

Further to that many teachers have never truly lived in the Real World. There are teachers that went to public school, went straight to university and then straight into teaching. If they did not get summer jobs that gave them another view on life - for example painting houses or doing landscaping or serving the public as a cashier at Walmart - then they have very limited knowledge of the Real World. They have been cloistered since birth some of them.

My son's best teacher was an executive secretary for 10 years before she became a teacher. She had learned how to take control in the business world and it showed in the classroom.

Posted by Robert in Missouri on February 12, 2011:

The better teachers I had -- especially those in graduate school -- were older people who went into instruction when they were near retirement. A couple of the worst were younger and were also teachers at Sunday school at fundamentalist churches in the area; they tended to play favorites with kids who attended their Sunday schools. The worst school counselor I had was in the same church as the worst teacher I had; for some reason I have yet to find out let alone to understand, he had to have me in his office several hours a day, always during the time I was supposed to be in that teacher's class. He was stupid, arrogant, rude, and kept insisting that one of a group of three bullies who stalked me that year -- the son of a cop who was a thief and a sociopath and who was giving property he stole from me to other kids in exchange for them beating me up -- was a friend of mine. It took quite a bit of time and effort to get out of the hell I was forced to suffer.

Posted by Tim - Atlanta on February 14, 2011:

Your observation of too many chiefs, not enough Indians in education is spot on. A friend of mine teaches at a high school of 1,500 students in East Tennessee. On the faculty are five Vice-Principals (none of whom instruct) and seven counselors (none of whom instruct) -- and this isn't some troubled, inner-city school.

Posted by Mike from Dallas on February 14, 2011:

Tomorrow (2/15/11), the DVD "Waiting For Superman" comes out. I'm told it's quite the indictment of the American educational system. In any case, I'm curious to watch it. But as far as I'm concerned, going back more than 50 years, it's been a massive failure. But then, apparently Mark Twain thought so, too. I mean, it's better than NO education, but surely not worth the price paid for such substandard quality. Mostly, American education is about indoctrination in the current social trend. "Resistance is futile. You WILL be assimilated."

Just how much can education be worth when the schools are more concerned with suspensions and expulsions over the smallest infractions (but not major crimes)? After all, lose the student count? Just raise the taxes. Tenure = no accountability.

Posted by Michael in Michigan on February 14, 2011:

After reading both the story and Randy's follow-up comments, as well as every one of the comments by readers, I have concluded that no one has mentioned the "elephant in the living room": race. Perhaps Randy edited out any such references, but it seems to me the only explanation for otherwise unexplainable actions or lacks of action.

Muncie is a small but old industrial city in combination with being a college town, but in the midst of bucolic, agricultural Indiana, it is not the place where you might expect the race issue to be a barrier to common sense. But I'll bet dollars to donuts that that's what the central problem is at Muncie's Central High, with all the attendant ramifications of defensiveness, denial, fear of branding, etc.

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No, I don't edit out bigotry. -rc

Posted by Brooke - Atlanta on February 15, 2011:

I disagree that the schools are 100% to blame in the decline of the state of public education in this country. I went to public shool in suburban Atlanta in the 1970's and received an education that adequately prepared me for college and the workplace. But I see things that are going on now that are different from when I was a student.

Parental involvement is nowhere near what it used to be. When I was in school the PTA was a vital organization that almost everyone participated in. Today, many parents see the public education system as a babysitting service and have effectively abdicated the process of teaching their children to the schools. When I walked into my house after school the first thing out of my mother's mouth was, "Where is your homework?" When my father came home from work he always asked, "Have you finished your homework?" Now I watch kids get off of the school bus and very few of them have any books, notebooks, or book bags. But they do all have iPods, portable Playstations, and cell phones. If I got into trouble at school (which happened only rarely) I was much more afraid of what my parents would do to me than what the school would do. Now, many parents will never admit that their children are disruptive at school and will respond with a lawsuit to attempts by a teacher to discipline their child. Sadly, the first solution to behavioral problems for many parents is to drug their children. Also, schools should not have put up with dumb zero telerence rules, political correctness, disruptive behavior, and other such nonsense. Kids that break the rules need to go through a disciplinary process that ultimately should end with expulsion if they don't change their behavior. Nowadays, a kid has to burn the school down in order to get expelled (Maybe even that wouldn't do it...the child might just be sent to counseling for his pyromania).

Unfortunately, some segments of our society do not stress the value of education as much as it used to. Demanding close parental involvement coupled with stricter enforcement of rules against disruption and bullying would go a long way to improving our schools.

Posted by Jack, Ahoskie NC on February 16, 2011:

I think this story is shocking, but some comments are shocking too. Yes, students should be held accountable for behavior. Any kid that stands up to the teacher and tells him/her to f--- off should find him or herself in some sort of punishment that will make them think twice before doing it again. The teachers need power again.

Next though, I get irritated at blowhards talking against unions, as though they are the problem. Anti-union blowhards are the problem. If there were not people trying to take away unions and peoples jobs, the unions would be more likely to work with the public to make a difference. Now, though, they find themselves fighting a rear guard action against a bunch of wackos who have no idea that their forty hour work week and decent pay are directly attributable to unions, and people who fought (and, yes, died) for decent working conditions.Get off the unions, and ask how you can help. I guarantee you will get a whole different response.

Next, get involved. Until you have been a teacher, you have no idea how hard a job it is. There is a reason why only a few people go into this, and there is also a reason why so few stay. It isn't because it is easy.

Next, deny these idiots who want to cut education. You know why public education is so bad? Cause every time we have a tax cut, we also have to have budget cuts, and where is the budget cut first? EDUCATION!!!!! SCHOOL LUNCHES!!! HELP FOR THE POOR!!! And you wonder why we have social problems...

Posted by Geri - MS on February 17, 2011:

I have not read all 141 comments but I did read Brooke's comment (Posted by Brooke - Atlanta on February 15, 2011). I am also a child of the school system from 1975 to 1988 and we have to remember that back then MOST moms were at home with the children and were very active in Community roles, one of which being the PTA. Since then the cost of living has been raised astronomically and the 'on the job' pay has not. Which has gotten America to the point that it takes not only both parents working a job each but some (police officers as an example) to get yet another job part time or full time. That puts parents away from the home and unable to be involved in a lot of what goes on. There are a lot of parents who take that extra time with kids but most employers nowadays DO NOT CARE if you have kids that need you home at 3:30 or 4:00. They DO NOT CARE if your child got caught cheating and has to stay home for a 3 day suspension. They DO NOT CARE if the school is closed for Presidents Day. Most parents are not able to enjoy their children today. Most children are expected to grow up sooner than they should and are not able to be KIDS!

Posted by Mike from Dallas on February 20, 2011:

I've mentioned before that, being a military kid, I attended schools in several states, including RI, NY, MI, VA, TN, GA, FL, TX, CA. I'll also mention that I started in school in 1957 until the class of 1970. Plus, I've been involved in my 4 kids' schools throughout the 1980's until the mid 2000's. Point being, I can speak from experience going way back, as well as recently, and from many different areas of the country.

And here's my point. My parents were not involved in any PTA, nor were most parents of kids that I knew. That was a major lament of educators back in the 1960's, that parents viewed school as nothing more than a babysitter. The reason why is that the PTA was nothing more than a feel-good device to give the impression that parents had any kind of say-so, but were routinely ignored, pretty much as today. Somewhere along the way, the PTA became the PTO, whatever that means, irrelevant in any case. They're still ignored. The administration will still do what it chooses to do, and hope the voters have short memories. Much like national politics.

Lately, it's become fashionable to complain that schools have become more dangerous. There seems to be some national collective memory of idyllic days of yore when everything was just right as rain with the schools. I got news for you, schools were violent 45 years ago. Oh, sure, you didn't have massacres, followed by suicides, going on. That's a more recent function of mass media notoriety. Used to be, it didn't get reported outside the local area, so nobody knew or cared. No point in dying, just to be forgotten. But every school sure had its fist fights. No, not the John Wayne movie fights where each combatant traded a punch for punch until one decided it wasn't worth it. It was knock your teeth out, break ribs, and cause damage to make sure everyone knew who was Boss. Even if teachers did try to intercede, it just meant that fights would be moved to more secretive areas. Take it to court yourself? You learn fast to keep your mouth shut. Even kids who hated the bullies will still treat the victim as a pariah, just for squealing.

As for the teasing kind of "bullying" that comprises the trendy headlines now, where kids commit suicide simply because someone talked mean to them, let me point out that teachers have been, and still are, just as bad as the kids, if not sometimes worse. There's not enough room to list the innumerable occasions I've seen over 45 years, but to cite a single incident, my daughter was called STUPID in front of the class for not knowing that there are 52 States. (Apparently Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico achieved statehood without my knowledge.)

I will agree that parents have been deficient in holding their children accountable, for decades, but keep in mind that the public education system has consistently worked to undermine parental authority for those decades, too. With the addition of Social Workers or Counselors into the system, who actively advise students to ignore parental values, instruction, guidance, or rules, it only compounds the national parental malaise already present in a majority of homes.

Don't try to portray the refusal of the school administration to hold the perpetrators accountable for rape and other actual crimes on the lack of parental involvement in the school.

Posted by James, Ill. on March 7, 2011:

Yeah, that'll look real good on his resume since he's probably going to have to look for another job once he does get out of jail.

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Let's just hope his next job isn't around children. -rc

Posted by Mike from Dallas on March 7, 2011:

Not being a lawyer, and certainly not a prosecutor, I'm sure I don't know all the details, but it seems to me that someone is feloniously responsible for engaging in the coverup, destruction, or at least tampering of evidence. Or withholding? And a case could be made for conspiracy on those items, although admittedly more difficult to prove. I think what's scariest, though, is how much the local prosecutor has been dragging his feet, which implies collusion, if not conspiracy, on his own part.

And that's what bothers me most about politicians who want to make MORE laws. They're not needed; just enforcement of existing laws. But that takes actual work, rather than the illusion of "doing something" by passing more laws.

Posted by Mike, central Florida on March 7, 2011:

Well, I guess it's going to come down to the land sharks (trial lawyers) at this rate. Somebody, somewhere, MUST have enough brain cells rubbing together to realize that if there's no serious effort to prosecute this crime(s), there are going to be some VERY ANGRY parents who'll be suing the School Board and anybody else responsible for this. (Remember what happened to O.J. Simpson?) They might be suing anyway, but playing games like this will only anger them further and push for more severe civil penalties. Wanna guess how the jury would vote? Methinks this is going to get rather nasty once the land sharks get involved.

Posted by Rob - Allentown, PA on March 7, 2011:

I would think that any school administrator that interferes with a police officer making a legitimate arrest would be guilty of obstruction and should be arrested along with the student. I also think that police supervisors that allowed the school administrators discretionary power over police officers should be investigated for dereliction of duty.

Posted by Ann in Northern VA on March 8, 2011:

THIS feeble excuse for a charge was all the prosecutor could come up with? Ah good, I can sleep easy tonight knowing justice was served.

Posted by Kevin in SF Bay Area on March 8, 2011:

The "failure to immediately report child abuse or neglect" charge is probably the only one the DA could prosecute with a reasonable certainty of gaining a conviction. And the reassignment rather than firing is a district c-y-a move: if the district fired Principal Smith without a thorough internal investigation, he'd have grounds to sue them for unlawful termination -- which can drag on for years and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

I'm not condoning his or the district's actions, but as someone who's inside the educational system I wanted to illuminate some of the additional considerations typically involved in this type of case.

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I agree with your first sentence, and appreciate your supplying the probable logic on the rest. -rc

Posted by David, NYC on March 8, 2011:

"I'm wondering if this is a major part of the educational problem in this country: too many chiefs, not enough "Indians" (teachers) who do the actual educational tasks."

This is a major part of the problem in our country, and the sad fact is that teachers are the ones coming under fire instead. I can only talk about the NYC DOE (and only vaguely for job concerns), but there is a staff shortage when it comes to people doing work, yet there is a surplus of administrators.

In NY, if the DOE doesn't provide adequate services for a special needs child, the parents can sue to have the DOE pay for private school tuition. My 'friend' works for the CSE (committee for special education), which handles all of this stuff, and her job is, in part, to determine the validity of claims and make recommendations for the child's care. This is a good service, but it is amazingly abused, as a large portion of parents are rich enough to afford the tuition themselves, and often times the child's needs can be met in the public schools.

The problem is, it is nigh impossible to lose one of these suits, because of the way the system is set up. Any small mistake, any violation of rules, and they've won the case. Most suits don't even go to trial, as the DOE just settles unless everything is airtight, which it never is. For example, my 'friend' has to attend meetings with the parents and lawyers of a child, and she is required to have 4 people there total; including herself, she gets 2. Right off the bat, a lawyer can argue that procedure wasn't followed and likely win just on that alone.

The case load is also obscene, with my 'friend' having over 70 of these things to handle as well as 13 schools to monitor. There are no secretaries, so she has to do everything herself: scheduling months of meetings, mailing out upwards of 10 letters per case, fielding all the related phone calls, and even taking minutes at her own understaffed meetings. On top of that, she also has to talk with various lawyers about cases from the previous year that are now getting dealt with legally. She has an impossible workload.

On the other side of the fence, we have the administrators. One good example is the woman (let's call her Jane) who gets paid $200k+ per year to do almost nothing. They send her around to do odd jobs here and there, but she has no regular work assigned to her. The last task assigned to her was a colossal failure (though not entirely her fault, to be fair). Central decided to scan in all the legal cases to reduce paperwork and have them accessible via the software base they had set up. They were originally talking with a company who does this professionally, integrates everything seamlessly, etc., but it was deemed too expensive, and it was decided to be done in-house. Jane was instructed to supervise the two supervisors supervising the process of scanning all this stuff in (yes, you read that right). They used 'rubber roomed' and 'excessed' staff to do the scanning. They managed to make it 1/6 of the way through before discovering that the new software base being introduced next year would not communicate with the current one, and abandoned the project after having gone severely over budget.

They also have a habit of hiring F Status workers, people who have already retired, to do random things. The people hired are nearly always supervisors, and they are paid $500 per day. The last round featured perhaps 5 F Status supervisors doing nothing but making lists of things to do, lists which didn't match with anyone else's, which of course had to be organized for everything to fit together in a meaningless act of paper-pushing and cronyism.

The DOE is wasting millions of dollars per year on bogus tuition claims, they have more administrators than they know what to do with, and they have insufficient staff to handle the actual work. Yet teachers and other low-level employees are the ones that need to go.

Posted by Bonnie, Florida on March 11, 2011:

I once was assaulted on the street. I was 12 and with another girl and we screamed bloody murder and neighbors poured out and to make a long story short we ended up in court. The story was so clearly an outrage that I, though a child, was surprised at how easily the Judge adressed the criminal and how light the sentence. Until I looked him in the eye and realized the judge was also an abuser. Years later this was confirmed when he was found out.

I bet if you take a closer look at this administrator you will find another abuser. That is why he allowed evidence to be destroyed and the boy to go home and change clothes and clean up. It also allowed the further humiliation of the girl. Yep, he really had his jollies for the day. I hope he loses his job and they throw the book at him.

Posted by Dave, Minnesota on March 11, 2011:

The initial news story here mentions that "school officials", suggesting more than one party, were involved in stonewalling matters and calling in a social worker rather than police. It also contains no mention that the social worker (well, "YOC worker" to be specific) notified police. In other words, there is more than one guilty party here and surely at least as much reason to charge all of them equally. Making a scapegoat out of one employee and then charging that employee with a minimal offense (even if convicted, he'll get probation and there will be nothing to stop him from continuing to work in any school system in the nation.

The ultimate lesson to school employees is to do exactly the same thing the next time something like this happens. If word does not get out, everything will stay quiet and "the dignity of the school" will be upheld. In fact, I would be willing to bet that this has already happened any number of times, in many parts of the country.

Posted by Jim, Arlington, Texas on March 11, 2011:

Ever since I started teaching 61 years ago I have maintained that school administrators are the one most incompetent group of people in the country. Week after week they prove that I am right. After almost seven years teaching, I quit on April Fools Day to get away from one particularly bad principal, who shook his finger in my face and told me I'd regret it for the rest of my life. I haven't.

Posted by muriel, san gregorio, CA on March 12, 2011:

The thing that really got my attention on this story from the very beginning: where were the girls parents? What family could she call for help? She sat for 2 1/2 hours waiting for someone in the school to help? Couldn't she or wouldn't she call her parents for help? I don't see any mention of her parents or any family member who could help. Is she an orphan or a foster child?

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I don't recall any mention of this aspect in any of the stories I've read. My guess is they didn't allow her to call her parents -- and she was probably too intimidated to ask. -rc

Posted by Robert in Missouri on March 28, 2011:

Looks like the wheels of the justice system are starting to turn ever so slowly in this case. I hope the rape victim gets the help she needs from a reputable counselor and the principal loses his teaching license.

Posted by Alex, Asheville, NC on April 26, 2011:

"Who the suit is filed against isn't the last word. The district or union could agree (or their employment contract could state) that because the liability was incurred during the performance of their job, they're covered by the district, union, and/or their insurance carriers. Or the court could rule that is the case, or.... No matter what happens, you can be sure there will be impact on the taxpayers. -rc"

Randy, respectfully I must disagree. Because the performance of their jobs probably requires (depends on state) prompt reporting of crimes, which they did not do, they were derelict in performing their jobs. Thus I would argue that they were not performing their jobs and should not be protected by such clauses. *G* At least that's what I would argue to the courts if this came up in my town.

Randy, get off the union's backs please. It is beginning to be a union discussion, and not a crime discussion. Unions were formed over a hundred years ago to protect people from abusive labor practices, not to "cost the taxpayers money". They are still about looking out for the employee's rights, not "costing the taxpayers money", and slamming the unions for protecting employees from a bureaucratic juggernaut does not serve crime control. This case is going to cost everyone, and hopefully the little psychopathic terrorist who raped that girl most of all.
Though I do not belong to a union, I support their efforts to protect the American Worker.

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I'm hardly "on the backs" of unions. I'd expect there to be indemnification clauses. If there isn't, the union isn't doing its job. My bottom line -- which you quoted back -- has nothing whatever to do with unions: "No matter what happens, you can be sure there will be impact on the taxpayers." -- and that certainly holds true. -rc

Posted by Peter, Slovakia on July 13, 2013:

I believe everyone will be happy to find that the rapist was in the end sentenced to 4 years, plus one year of probation, so justice has been served at that front. (link, which comes up, for some reason... in the sports section.)

However, I believe not anyone will be happy to hear that the principal was sentenced for 120 days probation and 100 hours community service, but after appeal, the sentence was overturned. The lawsuits seem to go on.

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