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Back to June Ed Reporter

Education Reporter
NUMBER 257 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS June 2007

What’s Going on in the Classroom?

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Disturbing incidents of children having sex during school in Louisiana and Indiana have attracted national attention. "After 44 years of doing this work, nothing shocks me anymore," said the sheriff of the rural parish where the Louisiana incident occurred. "But this comes pretty close," he admitted.

The incident at Spearsville School in rural Louisiana involved five 5th-graders. Their class was left unattended for about 30 minutes because of a miscommunication between teachers. The high school teacher who would have been with the students on a normal day was at a special assembly, which the school called to address a fatal stabbing that had happened over the previous weekend. In that incident, a Spearsville 15-year-old allegedly murdered another local teen.

Apparently, when the class of about 15 5th-graders arrived at the unattended classroom, four of them began having sex. The other students remained in the classroom. The story began to circulate, and a week later police arrested the four students, charging them with obscenity. They also arrested as an accessory a fifth student who allegedly stood guard. The police released the students to their parents the same day, but the 5th-graders will be arraigned in juvenile court. Spearsville School expelled three of them, and gave detention to the other two.

One teacher expressed little surprise at the incident, also criticizing how the school is run. Students "cuss at the teachers and throw things at them, and nothing is done," he said. "The students run the school."

A similar incident at Raymond Park Middle School in Indiana happened in December and was not disclosed until March. In this case, two 6th-graders had sex behind a shop class cubicle, while the shop teacher was in the room part of the time. At least ten students witnessed what happened, with two of them standing guard.

The school reportedly learned of the incident in January, although at one point the associate superintendent told a local news station that the teacher discovered the behavior when it happened and took immediate action. The administration did not notify the school police and would never confirm to local media whether the students were expelled. Parents, who found out about the incident only when it made TV news months later, raised serious questions about the school's handling of the issue.

Furthermore, while the superintendent defended the school's handling by saying, "We're not used to dealing with this," yet another appalling story came out in the weeks following the first disclosure. Three years ago, in a similar shop classroom at the same school, a 14-year-old boy sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl behind one of the cubicles. The girl got away and got help from a teacher, and the boy was later arrested and charged with sexual battery. He now faces adult charges, in another court, of rape, confinement and murder. The girl and her mother accuse the school of hushing up the incident three years ago. Just as in the December 2006 debacle, the school chose not to notify parents, even parents whose children were in the room when the assault took place.

A few days after she said, "We're not used to dealing with this," the superintendent told the assaulted girl's mother that she knew nothing of the sexual assault. In a statement, the school cited "students' right to privacy and security" as the reason no one told parents of the two sexual incidents that have occurred at Raymond Park Middle School.


 
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