Following the arrests of several Loudoun County Public Schools teachers charged with unrelated crimes, school system administration released a statement Friday stating that they are taking several steps to ensure students safety.
Superintendent Eric Williams said in a prepared statement that the school system has outstanding educators who make a positive difference in students’ lives every day. “Even as we appreciate our many outstanding educators, we must continue to implement a comprehensive approach to the safety and security of our students, including actions to prevent and address inappropriate behavior by staff members.”
These actions include continuing to conduct background checks for new employees, passing new, more explicit policies related to appropriate student teacher relationships, and conducting a comprehensive division-wide training effort pertaining to reporting behaviors of concern.
The recent criminal charges include: a Park View High School teacher charged with indecent liberties by a custodian stemming from an alleged sexual relationship with a student; a teacher who taught at Discovery and Hillside elementary schools who was charged with creating or inflicting a physical or mental injury to a student; and a reading specialist charged with unlawful filming up students’ skirts at Woodgrove High School.
The school system’s statement pointed to its “Duty to Report Child Abuse or Neglect” policy the board revised last year. It is more explicit about sample behaviors, including grooming, described as an adult who redefines the student-teacher boundary and enters into an inappropriate relationship with a student.
“LCPS is committed to educating our employees on the topic of child abuse and neglect and each employee’s obligation as a mandatory reporter of allegations or suspicions of child abuse and neglect,” the release states. “To accompany the policy revision, we have undertaken a massive training effort in the past several months to create a culture in which reporting behaviors of concern is encouraged.”
Administration does not want the recent criminal charges against school employees to discourage any one from reporting behaviors of concern. “Only a tiny fraction of educators will ever engage in a reportable activity during their careers,” the release states, adding that the overwhelming majority of educators enter the profession to help children. “Reporting an adult behavior of concern to school resource officers, Child Protective Services, and school administration is an act of protecting children as well as the integrity of an honorable profession.”