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Audit: Utah schools didn’t report sex harassment, assault cases by teachers

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SALT LAKE CITY — A brand new state audit sheds mild on native schools failing to report irrelevant behavior of educators to state licensing officers, which means that downside educators keep away from self-discipline and will readily transfer to different schools.

“Because these cases were not reported, the Utah State Board of Education’s ability to manage and control educator licensure is diminished, and some educators have likely avoided USBE‐imposed discipline,” says a efficiency audit by the Office of the State Auditor launched Wednesday.

According to the audit, some examples of misconduct that most likely will have to had been reported to the Utah Professional Practices Advisory Commission come with:

  • Sexually harassing feminine scholars, together with touching the neckline of a feminine pupil’s blouse.
  • Viewing pornography on a district laptop.
  • Pretending to chop a pupil with a field cutter and accidentally reducing the scholar.
  • Offering additional credit score to feminine scholars in the event that they get dressed in a definite means and making sexually‐charged feedback to feminine scholars.
  • Placing arms on a pupil in anger and striking the scholar in opposition to the wall.
  • Disciplining a pupil by throwing a wrench at a pupil, which struck the scholar within the head.
  • Slapping a pupil within the face.
  • Physically combating with a pupil.
  • Coming to college below the affect of substances or alcohol.
  • Making sexually harassing statements, together with expressing a need to observe two feminine scholars kiss in school.

Auditors came upon 58 cases of alleged educator misconduct that, in response to to be had documentation, “should have been reported to UPPAC for investigation as required by law.”

This is a mean of just about six unreported cases in keeping with 12 months over about 10 years.

Auditors sampled 19 p.c of educators throughout the 5‐12 months length from 2013‐2018.

“We found 28 cases of alleged misconduct that likely should have been reported and only 17 that were actually reported,” the audit states.

The audit additionally discovered that knowledge referring to previous educator misconduct isn’t readily out there to schools.

However, the audit additionally concluded that the State School Board’s licensing self-discipline has progressed.

Auditors expressed fear about older disciplinary movements — one a decade previous by which a trainer “exchanged inappropriate written communications with a student, including communications with sexual content. This educator received a two‐year license suspension,” the audit states.

Recent cases in Idaho and Oregon by which teachers exchanged irrelevant textual content messages ended in state officers revoking the educators’ educating license, the audit says.

More lately, the Utah State Board of Education has applied regulations “that provide discipline presumptions for different categories of misconduct. These presumptions appear to provide both consistency and a higher degree of discipline for certain categories of misconduct,” the audit states.

The presumptions and the State School Board’s particular movements taken in newer cases “still are not excessive as compared to other states’ discipline,” the audit says.

Other states have revoked educating licenses for unprofessional boundary violations with scholars.

“In a more recent Utah case, an educator’s license was suspended for five years for engaging in extensive boundary violations with a student, including calling and texting the student, giving the student gift cards and meeting with the student outside of school,” in line with the audit.

However, the audit concedes “a perfect comparison of cases is difficult as each case is fact specific in determining appropriate discipline.”

In a written reaction to the audit, Alisa Ellis, State School Board vice chairwoman, wrote that the board is dedicated to the usage of its sources to research educator misconduct and maintaining schools responsible.

However, she wrote that evaluating cases and disciplinary results in different states to Utah cases is hard because of a loss of element and every case of alleged misconduct is “fact specific.”

Due procedure is necessary in every case, she stated.

The State School Board “is focused on providing a safe and positive learning environment for every student in the state and anticipates a comprehensive review of disciplinary presumptions through a Utah Professional Practices Advisory Commission review group, which the (State School Board) has approved and is in process of establishing,” Ellis wrote.

Audit: Utah schools didn't report sex harassment, assault cases by teachers

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