By Victor Skinner
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Kansas City Federation of Teachers wants educators accused of abusing students to know they have someone on their side.
And there are a lot of educators accused of abuse.
The union sent a recent email to its members in response to an alarming spike in allegations of child abuse by teachers pouring in to a student abuse hotline, KSHB.com reports.
“During the entire 2011 school year, the Department of Family Services received complaints of child abuse against 34 … teachers,” according to the news site. “During the first semester of 2012, the DFS hotline has already had complaints against 34 teachers.”
That’s a 100 percent increase in one year. The news report is unclear whether the spike is the product of more people becoming aware of the abuse hotline or whether there is an actual increase in abuse by Kansas City teachers.
But one thing is clear: the accusations are not translating into formal discipline or criminal charges.
KCFT President Andrea Flinders told teachers in a letter that they should call union headquarters immediately if faced with abuse allegations, before speaking with district officials or DFS authorities.
“We will send a legal representative with the teacher so they are not alone during the interview,” Flinders said, according to KSHB.com. “We are here to protect the rights of our teachers.”
The union has been doing a bang-up job, too. Of the abuse allegations against teachers this year, all have been deemed “unsubstantiated.”
Flinders “considers that a victory for teachers,” the news site reports.
But when the union wins, students and taxpayers typically lose.
We believe it’s an encouraging sign that parents, teachers, and others in the community have utilized the child abuse hotline to expose potentially serious problems that are often swept under the rug.
But we have to wonder if those who are reporting abuse will continue to do so if every allegation is quickly controlled by union lawyers and resolved as “unsubstantiated.”
What’s the point of reporting teacher child abuse if nothing ever comes of it? It’s hard to imagine that nearly three dozen people have reported false accusations.
We understand that teachers unions exist to “protect the rights of teachers,” but at what cost?
If the union wanted to secure a real “victory for teachers” it would help district officials get to the bottom of what may be a growing problem in Kansas City schools. The termination of poor or abusive teachers would be a huge victory for the excellent teachers in the district.