My oldest daughter will be starting high school in the fall. Recently our local school board announced that it would be changing principals at various schools, and my daughter’s school is getting a principal transferred from another high school. I have several friends who work for the school board, so I asked one about this man. The response I got was half-hearted praise, but I felt like there was something she wasn’t telling me. I pressed the issue, and she told me there is a not-well-kept secret about this principal.
Apparently, years ago, when he was a teacher, he had a sexual relationship with a student at the school where he was teaching. When some of the other teachers learned about this, they reported it to the principal and board office. However, they were shut down and told not to pursue this any further. They were given various reasons, ranging from the fact that the victim had not come forward, and this would have a major impact on her if this came out, to the school board not wanting the controversy, to the fact that this teacher was a very good football coach and this would hurt the team.
Whatever the reason, these teachers were told in no uncertain terms to drop the matter, and they felt their jobs would be in danger if they continued.
This teacher continued the relationship, and eventually married the girl. He was promoted, and those who initially covered it up have retired. So, most view this as a closed issue.
In my mind, a teacher who has had a sexual relationship with a student should not be allowed to continue to work, let alone be promoted to a position where he is going to regularly meet with students in an office with the door closed. Predators rarely stop at one victim. And even if he is not pursuing other students, how can he be expected to deal with a similar issue if it comes up in the school?
I don’t like the idea of my daughter attending a school with this man in charge (and in two years, my younger daughter will attend as well), but I don’t know what to do. While I have confirmed this story with several different people, I have only third-hand knowledge and no proof. If I were to raise this complaint without proof, I doubt there is anything that could be done at this point, and I could be in trouble for character defamation.
Sending my daughter to a different school is not an option, but it makes me so worried for her, and the other students at the school. Is there anything that I can do?
You have described a very uncomfortable situation and I empathize with your position. As a parent, your job is to protect your child at all costs. But in this situation, where there is a lot of hearsay, you need to tread carefully.
I consulted with a social worker who has a lot of experience in child welfare. Because you have no proof, and there was never any conviction, you can’t just accuse this man of what you heard he once did. It is a very serious allegation. And based on his promotion, his file will likely only be positive, which will invalidate your claim, no matter how significant it may seem to you.
Basically, you don’t have a leg to stand on legally. However, you can make a family rule that your daughters are never to be alone with the principal. That there must be another adult educator, guidance counsellor, or parent present if ever the principal asks to speak to your daughter in private.
You have every right to protect your child.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the two friends with kids the same age (June 20):
“I always enjoy your column but I had a concern with the advice you gave to Baby Bumps. I hope you were not suggesting that the two young mothers go for a walk and leave the babies at home.”
Lisi – There are two ways to respond here. One, in no way was I suggesting that the mothers leave their babies at home unattended, ever. Assuming they don’t have any child care, I suggested nap time so the women could walk and talk while the babies slept in their strollers.
Two, if there is childcare available to both women, then yes, absolutely leave the babies at home and go have some adult time and walk with your friend so you can talk and figure out what’s going on between you.