Any parent would agree that a student’s safety at school should always come first. A proposed bill in Delaware aims to accomplish that by giving the Secretary of Education the authority to immediately suspend a teacher’s license in certain circumstances. This could happen after a teacher is arrested or indicted by a grand jury for a violent felony, or when situations occur that pose a clear and immediate danger to students’ safety or well-being.
Under current law, the education department has less power to remove a teacher from the classroom, even under frightening circumstances. A teacher’s license cannot be suspended or revoked unless they resign or retire, or when they are fired after an official notice of allegations that there was a sexual offense against a child.
At this time, going through the motions to remove a teacher who may pose a threat can be a long, arduous process of hearings and appeals – especially if the teacher has not yet been convicted of a crime. In the meantime, that teacher often remains in the classroom with vulnerable students.
The Delaware Education Department recently cited several examples of educators whose licenses were not suspended, despite serious allegations – and some remain in the school system. They include a male teacher who was accused in three separate incidents of touching female students and making inappropriate comments. No criminal charges were made, and he was not fired. He resigned after the third incident and is now teaching at another Delaware school. Currently, the state has no grounds to investigate or revoke his license.
Another Delaware educator was charged with a felony for pushing and ultimately injuring a student with autism. Even though the charges are being investigated, this person has not lost their license and could take a job at any Delaware school.
Bill supporters also point to a 2014 case as an example of dangers that are present when a teacher cannot be removed from the classroom after serious abuse allegations. A Smyrna student filed a lawsuit against a teacher and the school district after the student had an ongoing sexual relationship with the teacher. The suit alleged that the district had prior notice of the teacher’s misconduct, which made students vulnerable to sexual abuse.
Other teachers, who had noticed the inappropriate interactions, warned the teacher to stay away from the girl, who was a student of his. Despite this, the investigation did not get underway until a cellphone was discovered that gave evidence of the relationship between the girl and the teacher. The trial revealed that the teacher had sexually assaulted the student at least ten times, sometimes in the classroom.
Jacobs & Crumplar attorney Raeann Warner, who represented the victim, was recently quoted in an article published on Delawareonline.com. She expressed her concern over the fact that the teacher had been let go by other school districts for similar allegations, but his license was never revoked or suspended. This was revealed by the deputy attorney general during the offender’s sentencing. Hopefully the proposed legislation will be met with approval, making Delaware’s classrooms safer for its students.
If you or a family member has been the victim of a sexual abuse by a teacher or other authority figure, the experienced legal team at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. will offer zealous advocacy for your case. Call 302-656-5445 today to arrange a confidential consultation with a dedicated Delaware sexual abuse lawyer or contact us online. From our offices in Wilmington and Georgetown, Delaware, we represent abuse victims in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide.