For nearly two years now the Sentinel has been documenting the lack of media attention to sex crimes within area public schools. So kudos to Fox 4 KC for shining a little light on the issue.

As Dave D’Marko reports, Department of Justice attorneys have come to town for three days of interviews with parents and students into “cases of sexual assault and sexual harassment” in the Shawnee Mission School District. 

Mike Fulton may not have known what he was walking into.

For the first time in the Sentinel’s memory, a news outlet has mentioned the name of the superintendent on the hot seat, in this case Shawnee Mission Superintendent Mike Fulton. Fulton has been on the job just a few months.  

On Tuesday, the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division sent a letter to Shawnee Mission parents. According to the letter, the DOJ had received “allegations of sexual harassment, including assault” in District schools. “The focus of our inquiry,” the DOJ attorneys make clear, “is the District’s response and legal obligations, not the conduct or legal obligations of any individual student or family.”

To that end, the DOJ attorneys asked parents permission to speak with them and their children and to inspect their school records going back to January 1, 2016.

D’Marko spoke with one concerned parent, Charlie Tietgen, whose 16-year-old daughter Claire reportedly has been beaten and harassed in school for years. 

“We’ve been complaining for eight years to everyone about how things are working with the Shawnee Mission School District, and this is the first time you feel somebody is really going to do something about it,” Tietgen said.

While the DOJ is in town, the Sentinel would recommend they meet with the leadership of the KNEA, the Kansas branch of the National Educational Association, a teacher’s union.

Despite all the alleged sex crimes by teachers and administrators–three in Olathe high schools just this calendar year–the KNEA has not made move one to address the situation. Teachers who are caught up in their own stuff are not likely to be vigilant about what they see around them.

 

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