While California schools are at the bottom in terms of academic performance they are one of the leaders in legal settlements for sexual abuse of children by school employees. Unions make it nearly impossible to fire a teacher but if accomplished it costs taxpayers an average of $500,000 and several years.
Many school administrators and employees ignore “red flags” and reports of abuse from students and parents and frequently violate their legally mandated reporting requirements. Vulnerable student victims that fear nothing will be done to perpetrators are reluctant to cooperate with an adult system they see as stacked against them.
All of this protects predators that may even have past “write-ups” in their school district personnel files.
Lilian A. Vanvieldt, senior vice president for Alliant Insurance Services, has spent more than three decades insuring schools across the country. She says sexual abuse and molestation are the most significant areas of insurance coverage under pressure and California is a high risk state.
“The cost of sexual molestation is becoming quite restrictive for insurance companies so they’re starting to pull back on that line of coverage.” In California, Vanvieldt recommends that schools carry a minimum of $50 million in coverage.
The cost to carriers is significant and even with high limits carriers are pushing up deductibles. So, in addition to insurance coverage being more costly, some districts are required to establish million-dollar retentions to even obtain coverage.
Vanvieldt says California is down to three or four insurance markets willing to write sexual abuse and molestation coverage. Others are limiting the coverage by dollar amount and number of claims.
A sampling of California news headlines tout the sexual abuse problem - Marysville teacher accused of sex with 15-year-old student; Juvenile hall teacher, inmate married; Embattled Yuba City Teacher Jim Whiteaker Resigns After Sexual Misconduct Allegations; Los Angeles school district settles abuse suits for $22M; LA School District Settles Molestation Case for $5M; LAUSD Has Paid Out More Than $300 Million Over Sex Abuse; California Is Juggling More Teacher Misconduct Cases Than Ever; How One School District Got a Handle on Its Abuse Problem.
And, now a female kitchen worker with Tri-Counties Juvenile Hall in Marysville is reported to be currently on leave accused of sexual misconduct with inmates.
The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing received 5,895 misconduct cases last year – 400 more cases than it received five years ago.
San Francisco attorney Paul Matiasic representing local molest victims in a suit against Yuba City Unified School District (YCUSD), Superintendents Doreen Osumi and Nancy Aaberg, Jim Whiteaker, and other school personnel said last week that former teacher Whiteaker is a serial predator that was allowed to remain employed as school officials knew of and actually noted complaints against him but did nothing.
Mandated reporters repeatedly violated the law by not informing law enforcement and/or Child Protective Services when learning of Whiteaker’s improper behavior with minor students over 25-years of incidents.
The next date for the YCUSD / Whiteaker lawsuit is November 4th, 9 am in Sutter County Superior Court. Matiasic says that the school district hired independent investigators to evaluate allegations and report back to the board before Whiteaker was released from his duties. Matiasic highlights more than a dozen incidents reported by victims about Whiteaker in the court filing. The document lists 16 different violations of the law.
The attorney believes the jury trial will be scheduled sometime in 2020 when Matiasic said he will utilize a “parade of witnesses” comprised of former students and school employees.
Meanwhile, though Yuba County Office of Education has had 2 instances of improper behavior by teachers with minor students in 2015 and 2019 they now have hired YCUSD - dismissed Jim Whiteaker as a full-time teacher to take the latest fired instructor’s job at T.E. Mathews (TEM) court school. TEM provides schooling for high-risk male and female students in collaboration with Yuba County Probation.
YCOE and YCUSD’s lax protocols and policies are exposing students to sexual abuse and risk losing millions of tax dollars in higher insurance deductibles and premiums that could benefit students.
(Get Lou’s podcast at “No Hostages Radio” and his articles at nohostagesradio.com)