By Carol Lloyd
As the news about Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles has gone from utterly depraved to even worse, there's been plenty of soul searching. How could so much have gone wrong without raising red flags? First, there was the arrest of one teacher accused of years of engaging bizarre sexually tainted behavior, then another teacher arrested on charges of sexual abuse, as well as reports that two aids had been accused of abuse, one of which was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
A recent article in the Los Angeles Times pointed out how these allegations hit just as the school seemed to be on the upswing, with a new energetic principal taking the helm in 2009 and test scores on the rise.
According to news reports, there have been parents complaints over the years about the accused teachers but nothing happened. The New York Times reported that there may not have been any central records of accusations of abuse in LAUSD.
Disturbing? Sure. Surprising? Not so much.
Having been one of those forgotten parent voices in a case against a teacher that spanned nearly a decade and involved many families (howling in the wind is the appropriate metaphor), I've watched how my school district also lost, tossed or failed to failed to keep track of parental complaints. Why? I could only come up with two explanations -- neither of them good: incompetence or putting adult careers above children's well being.
It's horrible that arrests, scandals, and lawsuits have to happen to spark change but I actually feel a little optimistic. Maybe this dark chapter in our public school system will make administrators treat parents' concerns for what they are: a deadly serious source of intel.