By Victor Skinner
CONNELLY SPRINGS, N.C. – It’s not uncommon for school officials to look the other way when confronted with the illicit activities of their teachers; some have even sent away teachers suspected of abusing students with a five-figure check and letter of reference.
But a recent case in North Carolina may be one of the saddest examples of what happens when school officials neglect their duty to protect students from the teaching staff.
The family of a young girl abused by her elementary school teacher is suing Burke County Public Schools because they say school administrators knew about the situation and did nothing to stop it, the News Herald reports.
“This lawsuit not only seeks compensation, but also sends a message to schools and adults entrusted with children’s safety that they will be held accountable if they refuse to protect children from such atrocities,” prosecuting attorney Doug Fierberg said, according to the news site.
The lawsuit centers on Hildebran Elementary school teacher Michael Alexander, who was convicted and sentenced to 50 years in prison for six counts of sexually exploiting children. Alexander took young girls, including the 9-year-old cited in the lawsuit, out of class to another room where he would commit unspeakable acts with them and record the activities. He then posted his disgusting exploits online.
The Herald reports Alexander threatened to kill the students and their families if his victims spoke of the sex sessions.
Alexander was busted when Interpol discovered the online images, one of which depicted a young girl in a Hildebran t-shirt, the Herald reports.
The lawsuit contends one third-grade victim told guidance counselor Linda Bradshaw about the abuse, but Bradshaw allegedly failed to report the allegations to the proper authorities. Bradshaw allegedly accused the girl of lying and sent her back to her abuser.
“Bradshaw’s deliberate indifference to (the young victim) violated no less than six explicit provisions of BCPS’s Manual requiring her to protect (the victim), at a minimum, reporting her allegations to the principal, superintendent, and police authorities,” the Herald quotes from the complaint.
The lawsuit alleges that several other people knew of the misconduct or should have but didn’t help. As a result, more than 50 children continued to be sexually exploited by Alexander, according to the complaint.
This sick story isn’t over yet. The Burke County school board is working to identify other people who may have been aware of the allegations, but did nothing to stop it.
Bradshaw, and anyone else who knew about the abuse should be fired immediately and never allowed to return to a public school.
School officials should never turn their backs on students, because as this case illustrates when they do terrible things can happen.