Six months ago, a student came to Triton High School Principal Catherine DePaul with a disturbing story: She believed another student was involved in a sexual relationship with a teacher at the school, and she’d seen explicit text messages the two had exchanged. A cover-up was put in motion when DePaul, an assistant principal, failed to report the offense to the proper authorities. The inaction by administrators who ignored policies and safeguards that were in place and allowed the teachers to get by with this behavior put students at further risk, constituting “individual personal, moral, legal and ethical failure.”
Five teachers have now been suspended from the school in Philadelphia, and each could face at least five years in prison if convicted. The teachers – all men in their late 20s or early 30s – are accused of having sexual relationships with female students during the 2011-2012 school year. The sex acts were consensual and the girls were 17 or 18 at the time – old enough to consent under state law, but that doesn’t excuse the breach of trust that these teachers displayed toward their students, who were in vulnerable positions as students under them. It’s no different than a therapist taking advantage of a client or a cleric taking advantage of a parishioner. This is simply another Penn State tragedy. Until people start reporting these incidents of child sexual exploitation and abuse, this kind of thing will continue to happen.
According to court documents, math teacher Dan Michielli, 27, of Blackwood had intercourse with a student several times during the school year and is being charged with official misconduct, sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child and criminal sexual conduct. Gym teacher and boys’ soccer coach Nick Martinelli, 28, of Cherry Hill is also being charged with official misconduct involving an 18-year-old, who he allegedly touched and kissed when she was a student and who he had intercourse with after she graduated in June. Math teacher and girls’ track coach Jeff Logandro, 32, of Blackwood is being charged as well with official misconduct, criminal sexual contact and endangering the welfare of a child. A court filing says he inappropriately touched a female student.
Authorities say a student, who was not one of the alleged victims, told a substitute teacher in April that teachers were “hooking up” with students. Authorities say the substitute teacher then told DePaul. The principal then met with the student, who told her she’d been to one of the teacher’s homes with a girl who was involved with him and had seen the explicit text messages. Authorities say that DePaul asked her to write an account of what she had heard and that Assistant Principal Jernee Kollock stayed with the student to help her write the statement, even helping her with her grammar, but also minimizing its seriousness. Around the same time, Faulk said, DePaul learned one of the teachers had driven an alleged victim and another student to Ocean City in violation of district policy, who was only reprimanded, but not reported. Neither administrator contacted the proper authorities. Both are being charged with official misconduct. DePaul later said she wished she had been more concerned for the students than for the teachers.
The teachers were suspended by the Black Horse Regional School District and the administrators were suspended as well. Superintendent John Golden said in a statement that the district was cooperating with authorities, notifying families of students of what allegedly happened and offering counseling. “In addition, we have initiated a comprehensive review of our existing policies, protocols and training and education materials to prevent this from happening again at this or any district school,” the statement said.
As Christians, I believe that we need to have a mass exodus out of the public school system and either place our children in private Christian schools or home school our children for their own protection. More and more public school teachers are getting caught doing these kinds of things every day now. In a previous article I published a teacher was caught putting his semen on cookies and giving them to his second grade students. Children will continue to be at risk if they are left in the broken public school system.
- Teachers, bosses charged in N.J. school sex scandal (usatoday.com)
- Teachers, Bosses Charged in NJ School Sex Scandal (abcnews.go.com)