This story is simultaneously inspiring and horrifying.
A sixth-grade class in the Davisville Middle School in the North Kingstown School District in Rhode Island was being subjected to a teacher (so far, unnamed) who was cruel to the boys and sexually harassed the girls, leering at them, giving them pet names, and asking them to dance. The teacher was also a coach, and reportedly told the class that he had received complaints from parents in the past without any consequences. The continuing flirting and sexual innuendos made the girls in the class uncomfortable, so the next year, as seventh graders, some of the boys reported the teacher’s conduct to their parents and adminsitrator at the school. All the adults shrugged the complaints off, the boys say.The students, however, did not give up. (Those aren’t the real heroes in the picture above, incidentally.) In January of 2021, eight boys from the class created a channel named after the teacher on the social media platform Discord, nicknaming it the “Pedo Database,” and documented the teacher’s behavior. During the pandemic lockdown, they had the Discord channel on a split screen with the teacher and logged in disturbing incidents as they occurred. The Boston Globe includes some of his quotes, like“You all love me so choose love;” “You gotta stand up and dance now,” and “[Everyone] in bathing suits tomorrow.”
The students also warned incoming students about the teacher, directing them to Discord database. Finally, in April of this year, the teacher was escorted off school grounds and placed on leave after allegations that he had stalked a pre-teen girl he was coaching. In that case, the parents also claimed that school officials were deliberately dismissive of their concerns. Finally authorities urged people to come forward with more information, and as is always the case with such predators, the metaphorical dam broke. Meanwhile, the class’s seventh database is a resource for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the state Department of Children, Youth, and Families, the state Department of Education, and the lawyer is heading up the investigation for the school district.
And, I hope, of the school district. As ethical as the boys conduct was to be provocative and, as an Ethics Alarms credo sates, “Fix the problem,” the fact that students had to take matters into their own hands is an indictment of our public school system and the quality of the people running it. Two administrators in the same school had been forced to resign previously after they refused to respond to evidence of another predator coach. One of the boys who trapped the unnamed creep told the Boston Globe, “I don’t think there was a single adult who would ever — like their parents, my mom, like anybody in the school — who had ever really taken the whole thing seriously before.”
Conservative writer Lincoln Brown writes,
Tell me again how what goes on in a school it isn’t any business of the parent. A parent should be able to walk in at any moment, sit down in a classroom, and find out exactly what is happening with their children. In fact, that might go a long way to detecting and preventing this kind of thing in the future. If a school district expects parents to trust it, it needs to be very comfortable with total transparency.
Well, transparency is nice, but earning trust also entails exhibiting competence, integrity, diligence, honesty and responsibility. The entire U.S. educational system, or at least a significant portion of it, appears to have abandoned those virtues.