According to public records obtained by the San Francisco Standard, staff members who were accused of sexual abuse in San Francisco Schools were allowed to resign or retire instead of being terminated.
Since 2017, at least 19 employees of the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) accused of sexual misconduct were allowed to resign or retire.
According to experts, letting abusers walk away without a full investigation only allows the conduct to persist. "But for officials tasked with solving the institutional problems that come with abuse allegations, the practice appears difficult to resist," writes the SF Standard's Ida Mojadad, Matt Smith, and Matthew Kupfer.
"A quiet agreement that has the alleged abuser simply resign eliminates the need to invest time and expense honoring holding a hearing, weighing appeals and other stipulations guaranteed in union contracts."
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The district claims that agreements allowing teachers to resign saves students and victims from the experience of having to recount traumatic experiences for an investigation. Also, agreeing to allow a school staffer to resign allows for a victim to be distanced from their alleged abuser. But multiple investigations show that this policy has only allowed abusers to target more victims.
“Every complaint needs to have a prompt, thorough investigation,” said Billie-Jo Grant, a member of the board of directors of Stop Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct and Exploitation. “It protects student safety—not only for that student, but also for all students.”
“The long-term consequence is that this person doesn’t have a record, and there’s no [official] evidence of wrongdoing,” said Grant. This creates a risk that the employee can “go get hired somewhere else, and they do it again.”
One case involved a 6-year-old who told their mother that a teacher had them sit on his lap while he touched their private parts. School officials found the accusation credible even though no charges were filed and were gearing up to terminate the teacher, but the teacher was allowed the option of resigning before any official termination took place.
"But in seven of the cases, school officials did not provide information about what the employees were accused of. There is no clear way for the public to find out what led these individuals to resign," the SF Standard reported.
Read the full report over at the San Francisco Standard.