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Inappropriate Teacher-Student Relationships Eroding Parent-Teacher Trust


How does this keep happening? Last Monday (June 25), ABC's Good Morning America (along with every media outlet in the US) reported another case of a trusted teacher hitting on a student! This time it's a male teacher involved in an inappropriate relationship with a female student. What's happening to the parent/teacher trust factor? Let's be honest…it's evaporating faster than you can say, "crazy teachers and sexual misconduct."

I mean, I know it's a youth worshiping country, but this is getting ridiculous. According to every TV and radio station in the US, long time track coach Brenton Wuchae first started paying special attention to his then 14 year old student, Windy Hagar, a few years ago. He started giving her special attention and rides home from practice, which progressed into heavy texting, and eventually into full blown "love". What was a gaw-gaw couple in love to do? Head to the altar and tie the knot, of course!

There was only one thing standing in their way - - the law. Without the consent of Windy's parents, ole Brent would have been committing statutory rape if he had tried to whisk his 16 year old love away and wed secretly. Parents can't control everything, but until daughters are 18, they hold some pretty potent cards. Being armed with this power, what parent wouldn't choose to employ this restraint and give their starry eyed teenager a chance to get her head on straight?

The Hagars apparently! For some mysterious reason, Windy's mom and dad actually signed a parental consent form, and their sweet 16-year-old daughter became the wife of this 40 year old man. Windy's father, Dennis, said they were exhausted, that they had to "move on" because "it was going to kill us all."

They obviously had reasons that are very personal. I don't know all the dynamics involved in this family, but I'll tell you this…I don't get it. I admit I am wrong to judge from a distance. Perhaps they were indulging parents who just never learned to dominate their own emotions so they could say, "no". But let's put parents aside for a minute.

What concerns me more is that these cases – cases of teachers involved in inappropriate romantic (and let's be honest – sexual) relationships with their underage students – are not diminishing. What's being done by state legislatures and school boards to reverse (or at least mitigate) the situation? Why aren't prospective teachers given a battery of "personality" tests before being offered their first 12 month contract?

Heck, you can't even get a good sales job without being subjected to the 4-5 hour Myers-Briggs Test. New sales candidates are told to relax, be yourself and answer honestly. After all, “There are no "wrong answers" they say. Yeah...RIGHT! Of course there are wrong answers! If this weren't so, they'd require you to take the test AFTER they hire you! But I understand – companies are trying to weed out timid, overly sensitive souls from their candidate base. For sales positions, they want driven people with the killer instinct. And why not – they want results!

Don't you think it's about time these genius "personality profiling" companies came up with some type of "test" to weed out new teachers who are a little off-balance before they begin their teaching careers?

When Linda Felton Steinbaum approached me about producing her new play, Mustang Sally, I was excited because the subject is so topical. But it’s even more prevalent than I thought. Almost daily another case is in the news. Like dirty laundry, a long list of these cases with details about the age disparities is listed on the play's website http://www.mustangsallytheplay.com/Articles; cases such as Lakina Stutts, Deana Bobo, Mary Kay Letourneau, Bethany Sherrill, Kelly Lynn Dalecki, Sherry Brians, Pamela Turner, Susan Eble, Tara Lynn Crisp, Laura Lynn Findlay, Carol Flannigan, Moan Marie Sladky, and let's not forget infamous Debra LaFave.. And these are only a few of the female offenders! I heard a rumor that the schools in Simi Valley California had three cases of female teachers and sexual misconduct with their students (that were successfully swept under the rug) LAST YEAR alone!

See the full ABC Good Morning America story of Mon, June 25, 2007, “Anguished Parents Sign Consent Forms, Saying They Had No Choice” at http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=3305652&page=1&CMP=OTC-RSSFeeds0312.

Is it just me, or does anybody else find this disturbing?

Submitted by:

Tish Smiley

Tish was an Art teacher at Newmark Junior High in the North Kansas City School District before moving to Los Angeles. She has since had principal acting roles in over 30 SAG and AFTRA productions and more than 35 stage productions. She has written several plays (one, YARD SALE, received 6 Drama-Logue Awards), 4 screenplays, several one-acts and 6 comedy episodes for a cable show. She has directed 5 plays (including Linda F Steinbaum's FAT CHANCE in 2006) and countless one-acts, as well as serving as producer for many of the projects listed.





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