Jayme Calhoun 0

Madison County Students Deserve Better

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In 2010 at Sparkman Middle School a 14 year old special needs student was sexually assaulted in the boys bathroom. As if that is not horrendous enough, the circumstances surrounding this case are at the very least appalling and deeply disturbing. Instead of fostering a safe learning environment, in this case the administrators facilitated this assault by devising a plan to use the girl as bait. After numerous reports over several weeks by teachers aide June Simpson to the administrators, stating that the boy had been trying to lure girls into the bathroom for sex on the special needs hallway, she was practically begging them to keep the boy under constant supervision. But principal Ronnie Blair and assistant principal Jeanne Dunaway said that since the boy had not been "caught in the act," paraphrasing a school policy that states that students can not be disciplined without substantiation of student-on-student misconduct.

The 16 year old boy had a record that was more than enough evidence to require the constant supervision that Simpson had requested, in 2008 he was given in-school suspension for hitting a student, in February of 2009 he was suspended for "sexual harassment." In April of the same year he again received in-school suspension for disrespecting a teacher, in September was suspended for offering to pay a student to physically assault a female student, and in October he "told off" a bus driver and "touched" a girl and was not allowed to ride the bus for 10 days and was again suspended. Then in November he groped another girl on the bus and was again suspended from riding the bus, this time for 24 days and in December he was suspended from school for another 2 days for "kissing". Just 2 weeks before he sodomized the girl in the bathroom he was in trouble again for "inappropriate touching" of another female student, but since there were no eyewitnesses the school declared that he was not guilty, despite the fact that they had determined that punishment needed to be discussed. But despite all of the evidence pointing to this student being a danger to other students, especially females, and in obvious need of counseling, the school did nothing to protect them. Instead, a teachers aide came up with a plan to try and do what Blair and Dunaway said needed to happen, and "catch him in the act."

Simpson brought the plan, which was to use a 14 year old special needs girl (who had been targeted by the boy previously) as bait to catch the boy by letting him entice her into the bathroom and having teachers in the bathroom to intervene, to Blair and Dunaway and received no objections to it. Though they did not explicitly condone the plan, they did not advise against it or offer to find a better way to solve this obvious problem. The girl reluctantly agreed to participate, and when she followed him into the bathroom that afternoon no one was there to intervene. No one stopped him from assaulting her, no one was there to protect her. She suffered anal tearing and bruising as a result of the attack. To make matters worse, Dunaway said that she "was responsible for herself once she entered the bathroom."

He was suspended for a mere 5 days, sent for a brief stint at an alternative school, and was allowed to return to Sparkman. She withdrew from school and moved out of state. June Simpson resigned after being placed on leave. Ronnie Blair remains the principal of Sparkman Middle. Jeanne Dunaway was promoted and is currently the principal of Madison County Elementary School.

Not only is it mind boggling that these people still have jobs in education, it is sickening that a teachers aide felt that she had to go this route to protect special needs children from a student predator. The absolute indifference of Mr. Blair and Mrs. Dunaway is sickening, and why this boy was still in school after the fist few offenses is puzzling. In Mr. Blairs eyes, 5 days of suspension is appropriate punishment for sodomizing a 14 year old. In Mrs. Dunaways eyes it was mostly the girls fault. In the eyes of the school policy makers, sexual harassment and assault do no occur unless there is an eyewitness, which is contrary to the very nature of the crime. As a parent I am appalled at the way in which Sparkman Middle and the Madison County school system handled this situation. Blair and Dunaway should have criminal charges brought against them. At the very least, thy should not be allowed at hold any administrative position at any school ever again. The policies of Madison county schools need a complete overhaul, with the focus shifted from protecting the offenders to protecting the students. There should be counselors in place to step in with repeat offenders of any rule and any time an offense that is sexual in nature occurs. The local police department should have been full involved as well.

If you believe that Mr. Blair, Mrs. Dunaway, Sparkman Middle, and the Madison County School system should be held accountable please sign this petition. Our children deserve better!

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