This Story Points to Why There Are so Many Predator Teachers

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A few years ago, in a conversation with my friends about our various high school experiences, we revealed something unsettling: All of us, it seemed, knew of some form of inappropriate teacher/student sexual contact during our time in school.

Across private and public schools, in different states, everyone in that conversation knew of a teacher who was arrested — or about a teacher who students just knew to stay away from.

Initially, I couldn’t think of any official cases of abuse from my time in school, but there definitely were some things that were off: A teacher who married a former student. A young sports coach who dated a senior who was 18. A teacher who upperclassmen passed down a warning about — year-after-year: Don’t sit in the front row if you’re a girl with a large chest because he’d stare.

If you think back, I am pretty certain you’ll remember something like this from your school years, too — maybe not in your grade, maybe just a rumor, but something; there probably was that teacher.

Cases of arrests or teacher firings are rare, but the kinds of more subtle things that kids are less likely to report — and schools less likely to take serious action on, like flirty texting or comments — are so common that it’s become a TikTok meme.

When BI’s Matt Drange started reporting his series on cases of sexual abuse in high schools, I was grateful. Obviously, reading about horrific abuse of children is not something I’m thrilled about, but this seems like a reckoning that is due. How could this be happening at seemingly every school across the country?

Matt reported first about a teacher at his own high school. Then about how complaints from students about other teachers at the same school were ignored, and how predator teachers were allowed to resign without a mark on their records, getting hired in a new town where it happened again.

The latest in his series looks at this crisis on a national level, obtaining thousands of documents across multiple states — searching for information on how these cases are handled. This is a problem that’s both pervasive and systemic, he found.

What was also troubling: There’s a lack of data and public records surrounding the issue, like official reporting on how many teachers were disciplined or fired for sexual harassment, or for abuse of students.

It’s not consistently tracked at a state or federal level. That covers up exactly how common this is.

From Matt’s excellent report:

With no federal system for tracking educators who abuse students, NASDTEC has stepped into the breach. Since 1988, the Washington, DC-based nonprofit has maintained a clearinghouse of adverse actions taken against teacher credentials from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. But the database is not public; it’s available only to state credentialing agencies and the small fraction of districts that opt in and pay a modest annual fee. Only 254 school districts across the country — less than 2% — currently have access.

Read the full story HERE.

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