PDA

View Full Version : NC Policy for Teachers Accused of Sexual Harrassment



Rhoda Nightingale
03-17-2012, 01:07 AM
Exactly what it says on the tin.

My character has been accused of making a pass at a student--not true, but she's trying to get revenge on him for taking away her cell phone during class. This is just a subplot; my teacher character is a mentor for my MC, and the MC needs to learn how to face the villain without his help for a change, so this is pretty much my way of getting said mentor out of the way for a while.

The question is how out of the way would this actually put him? The teacher isn't a parent or legal guardian but my MC is an orphan, so he's been staying at this guy's house. I don't know exactly what would happen to my MC or the teacher character if this were to happen in real life.

Any suggestions? Ideas? Concerns? Questions? Thanks in advance!

robjvargas
03-17-2012, 01:12 AM
How well known is it that the MC is staying with the teacher? I can see the teacher immediately put on "administrative leave." And possibly arrested. If arrested, let out only on condition of no contact with minors.

I'd imagine that rumors would fly. Suddenly, all kinds of otherwise normal situations in the past would be questioned. I cannot imagine that the MC would handle that well.

Becca_H
03-17-2012, 02:20 AM
The MC is staying with the teacher? I see a potential sticky situation here with the administration unless there's something legal in place, such as adoption.

A sexual harassment allegation would lead to immediate suspension. Even if found innocent, he may be asked to resign anyway. Also, some teacher contracts have a vague "morality clause" which may come into play here.

ArtsyAmy
03-17-2012, 03:16 AM
Would this kind of allegation really result in the teacher's immediate suspension, no matter the situation? Maybe it would--I just don't know. It would be good if someone who works in a school system would step in and answer, or if you could find out official policies school sytems have regarding this. It's been several years since I worked in children's services, and I don't know about current policies for this kind of matter. But it's well known among high school teachers, social workers, therapists, the courts, etc. that there are adolescents who think that if they want to get a teacher in trouble, saying he/she made a pass at a student is a sure way to accomplish that, and those adults are on to that game--they don't necessarily believe the allegations. Of course, there really are teachers who have done this kind of thing, so a student isn't necessarily playing a game if he/she makes such a report. I would imagine that if the teacher has a long history of doing good, and the student has a history of doing bad (including lying), then the allegations may not be taken as seriously as they would if, say, the teacher is young and the student sparkles with good grades and manners. That doesn't mean the allegations against the older teacher would be false or the allegations against the young teacher would be true--just means that many adults might see the former as less believable.

There might be a problem with an orphan simply staying with a teacher with no type of formal guardianship established through the courts. But I saw cases with teenagers who had very problematic homes, parents who didn't parent, teens who frequently ran away, social workers having trouble finding a place in a shelter for a child--and kids who wouldn't want to stay in a shelter anyway, so would run away. In in those types of situations, when the child was an older teen, it was sometimes cosidered acceptable for them to stay in a setting without a formal guardianship--at least they had a roof over their head. (Sad, but reality.)

Rhoda Nightingale
03-17-2012, 04:18 AM
Thanks for the replies, folks!



There might be a problem with an orphan simply staying with a teacher with no type of formal guardianship established through the courts. But I saw cases with teenagers who had very problematic homes, parents who didn't parent, teens who frequently ran away, social workers having trouble finding a place in a shelter for a child--and kids who wouldn't want to stay in a shelter anyway, so would run away. In in those types of situations, when the child was an older teen, it was sometimes cosidered acceptable for them to stay in a setting without a formal guardianship--at least they had a roof over their head. (Sad, but reality.)
Yeah, this is pretty much the situation here. The teacher has no formal guardianship, my MC was abandoned at a very young age, but there is also quite a bit of magical string-pulling going on as well. Meaning, the teacher is a powerful sorcerer and my MC is his apprentice. They're supposed to stay close geographically, and in my world it's normal for a mentor and apprentice to share a home. However, the magical realm isn't known to the rest of the world, so they've pretty much decided not to refute the assumption that my MC is adopted.

@robjvargas: It's known to pretty much everyone that the MC is living with the teacher, but it's assumed that the MC is legally adopted, which isn't the case. A formal adoption is too expensive, and they're also trying to fly under the radar from a rival sorcerer (evil, wants to use the MC's powers for Bad Things, etc) so they're both new to the area where this school is.

robjvargas
03-17-2012, 06:43 AM
@robjvargas: It's known to pretty much everyone that the MC is living with the teacher, but it's assumed that the MC is legally adopted, which isn't the case. A formal adoption is too expensive, and they're also trying to fly under the radar from a rival sorcerer (evil, wants to use the MC's powers for Bad Things, etc) so they're both new to the area where this school is.

Do you know what "front page, above the fold" means? A teacher with a student living in the home, not adopted or some other formal guardianship? And an allegation like this?

I see a whole lot of cascade effects here. If the teacher and MC are using assumed names, this is when that gets discovered. Now the stories fly as to whether this teacher *is* a teacher (as in properly licensed). The school administration is going to have to explain how that happened.

If the teacher isn't tenured, gone. No administrative leave, no suspension, just "we will not ask you back."

These stories don't always gain national attention, but if so, their cover is blown. And if the two run to avoid the evil wizard, then the teacher is going to appear to be running from the charges. Now he's a fleeing suspect.

None of this is guaranteed, I don't think. The accuser might not be believed. A rock-solid alibi, or something that clearly says this couldn't have happened. I'm not a legal expert. Just looking at how the Jerry Sandusky case (http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/02/sandusky-daughter-in-law-hes-not-safe-for-any-children/) has been handled at Penn State, and the attention it got, then trying to extrapolate that down to someone less famous than Coach Sandusky.

Becca_H
03-18-2012, 02:14 AM
If you haven't already, some student-teacher novels might give you some depth/inspiration surrounding this conflict. Teach Me and A Season of Eden are two that come to mind.

jaksen
03-18-2012, 05:43 AM
I was a teacher (in MA) for several eons.

If the kid is an orphan, he's a ward of the state. If he's a ward of the state, he's placed in a foster home or group home. (Until age 18, anyhow.) You just won't find orphans roaming around free - unless he's a runaway, but if he's a runaway, then he's been found, hasn't he? Because he's living with a teacher, a teacher who'd know he can't just take in some kid and pretend he's adopting him.

But the kid's in school, so the school needs to know who the kid's parent or guardian is and who he's living with - along with the paperwork to back it up. This kid can't just live with the teacher because it's not enough that people 'think' the teacher has adopted the kid. And if the teacher is adopting him, there has to be a social worker and/or state official overseeing and approving the whole process. (And the school is kept in the loop throughout.)

Can teachers adopt kids? Sure they can. I knew many teachers who were foster parents. But they had to go through a rigorous process to make sure they were fit to be foster parents, and most of them were married. Many had natural children of their own.

However, if the teacher is a wizard, perhaps he's worked some magic or forged some documentation that will certify that he is indeed the kid's legal guardian or foster parent. But why bother? Why not have the teacher/wizard simply, legally adopt the kid? (Or you as the writer, can say that he was adopted years ago?) Do teachers and their own children and adopted children attend (or work at) the same school? Of course they do.

I know kids slip through the cracks. I know kids get lost, missing, abducted, etc., but you've established a scenario where the kid goes to school and just happens to live with a teacher and apparently that's okay with everyone. That rings false to me. Even if the teacher tried to do it on the sly - get away with it - someone somewhere is going to speak up. Either another teacher is going to start asking questions (it's part of their job) or someone else will: an administrator, counselor, the other kids, or maybe even a parent. Or someone who lives on the same street and thinks something funny is going on.

We caught a thirteen year old girl (Grade 7) living with an older man when I was teaching. How'd she do it? Her mother was on a business trip and had her staying with a girl friend and the friend's family. But the girl, after her mother left, lied to this family and said her mother cancelled the trip, so she had to go home. She didn't go home; she went down the street and stayed with a guy in his 30's. How did we teachers find out? (We didn't find out for three days.)

Her friend, a boy who knew her since early childhood, came to me and said I have something to tell you, Mrs. M., that I'm not supposed to tell anyone but I have to tell someone. Yeah, I was shocked but we called the police, and the mum on her business trip and the family she was supposed to be with and later the girl was sent to a private boarding school.

I like to think teachers try to be vigilant in this area without being unnecessarily intrusive into our students' lives, but it's all part of the job.